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Interview: What Nev. Dems Are Working On This Session

Lawmakers in Nevada are advancing legislation that would, among other things, increase the state's minimum wage, decriminalize abortion and require utility providers to get at least 50 percent of their energy from renewable sources. 

Those measures are part of an agenda laid out by Democratic leaders early in the session. In Carson City, KUNR's Paul Boger sat down with those leaders, Speaker of the Assembly Jason Frierson and Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, to learn more.

Among those top priorities are efforts to improve access to healthcare for all Nevadans. It was a major issue on the campaign trail in 2018, and for Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, measures aimed at placing protections like those for pre-existing conditions into state law are of utmost importance. 

"I will say that one of the things that I've been really excited to work on is expanding access to women's health care options," Cannizzaro says. "We've seen that in a number of ways. One of the more broader strokes of that is Senator Ratti's bill to codify pre-existing conditions into Nevada law, and I think that is something when you talk to people at the door...that is something that's important. It's an important protection for people who have pre-existing conditions to know that they're going to be able to access health care and continue to do so, regardless of what is happening at the federal level."

Democrats have also taken on a number of labor issues, including requiring private employers of a certain size to provide paid time 0ff to employees and raising the minimum wage. These issues have required a large amount of input from all stakeholders, including the business community and unions.

"They don't all agree," Frierson says. "I've met with one chamber that supported a minimum wage increase larger on the front end than what I'm proposing, so what's important is that when we have these conversations, they're at the table, that we hear them out, that we tried to avoid any unintended consequences, and that we keep pace with the rest of the country."

Ultimately, though, both Cannizzaro and Frierson say they're hopeful that in the future, people will remember this session as one that helped all the people of Nevada. 

"These are not pieces of legislation that are meant for special interests," says Cannizzaro. "They are not pieces of legislation that are meant for big money. They're for regular people--the people that you talk to at the door, the people that you meet on the campaign trail, the folks that you know you are sent here to represent, the people who live in your district. That's what I want people to take away from this session: that Democrats can lead, and we can put forward really good policy that, at the end of the day, people are going to be better off for. Families are going to be better off. Your neighbors and your friends are going to be better off. I think that's the biggest takeaway that I'm hoping for, and I think we're on the right track to do it."

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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