LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Assembly Republican Leader Dr. Robin Titus delivered the Republican response to Gov. Steve Sisolak's 2021 State of Nevada address on Tuesday.
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STATE OF THE STATE RESPONSE
January 19, 2021
Hello, I’m Dr. Robin Titus, the Assembly Republican Leader delivering this response to Governor Sisolak’s State of the State message.
I am addressing you at the foothills of the stunning Sierra Nevada mountains in Douglas County, socially distanced. I would like to give my thanks to all of you tuning in safely at home and to those hosting virtual watch parties across the state.
I would also like to thank those who are always so close in our hearts and minds: our military and our veterans.
Nevada is committed to our military: we strive to be the most veteran friendly state in the nation. And as the wife of a former Sheriff, I also extend a special thank you to our law enforcement and first responders. On behalf of all Nevadans, thank you for serving our communities and our state.
2020 has been contentious and challenging for Nevadans. We have adapted and bravely met challenges thrown our way, and the Battle Born state remains resilient.
This past year has brought stories of loss, despair, and heartbreak, while tales of neighborly love, support, and humanity offered solace and buoyancy.
Everyday heroes emerged from our communities, even when the virus was barely understood. As a seasoned family practice doctor, I am still amazed by the bravery of health care workers and first responders putting their own lives at risk, exposing themselves to the virus every day, just to care for the rest of us.
We owe our gratitude to the grocery store workers keeping our shelves stocked, the farmers and ranchers keeping food on our tables, the gas station attendants and truck drivers and postmen and women who keep delivering, the volunteers who helped work at food banks and donated their time, money, and effort to help our vulnerable populations, and so many others.
Through the sheer innovation and perseverance of everyday people, we have survived together.
Today, I will discuss our priorities of immunizing and improving healthcare access across Nevada, prioritizing our children’s education, rebuilding our economy, maintaining open and transparent government, and enacting meaningful election reform.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the fault lines in our healthcare system. This is allowing us to implement common sense reforms that will provide equitable and accessible healthcare to all Nevadans. We are lucky to have the best of the best healthcare professionals in the nation and are proud to see how they have kept Nevadans safe and healthy.
However, we simply do not have enough. A recent study by the University of Nevada and the American Association of Medical Colleges shows Nevada ranks 48th in the country for the number of primary care physicians per 100,000 people. We must expand our healthcare workforce to provide efficient and affordable healthcare to all communities. That’s why Republicans will continue to bring forth solutions that keep our doctors in Nevada by removing burdensome regulations and creating incentives for new doctors.
Our medical professionals should be given those same benefits of protection from civil liability that we offer our business community. They deserve this for risking their own wellbeing to put patients first during the pandemic.
Our healthcare crisis goes beyond the pandemic itself. Opioid abuse and mental health problems continue to devastate the lives of many Nevadans. We can’t ignore these issues, but we also shouldn’t exacerbate the problem through restrictive policies.
Education is the most important foundation for bettering the lives of every Nevada child, who all deserve the opportunity of a quality education. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and our efforts to keep Nevada families safe, education priorities were disrupted. To prevent kids falling further behind, a herculean effort was undertaken by Connecting Kids Nevada to provide reliable internet access to students across the state. Through the public-private partnership nearly half a million students across all state counties now have internet access.
Our efforts to respond quickly through remote learning are a short-term solution, and if we are to minimize the achievement gap, we must get our kids back in the classroom. The lack of continuity and uncertainty has led parents to explore options that better fit their kids’ learning experience. We strongly believe that zip code should not determine life outcomes and a one-sizefits all policy is hurtful. Our education system can rise to the occasion and give families options, so they can find an education that best fits their needs. Kids should not be trapped in failing schools. The pandemic has demonstrated just how valuable good teachers are to society and we need to have incentives and compensation to reward them.
Education doesn’t end at high school or college. Skilled workforce training and higher and technical education options are the foundation of providing well-paying careers in both urban and rural areas. As more companies continue making Nevada their home, we must ensure we are training for the jobs of tomorrow. Workforce development and investment is critical for Nevada to be competitive.
Mining provides some of the best paying jobs in the state, and not only in rural Nevada. To broaden awareness of the industry, mining is partnering with workforce development agencies to ensure that all Nevadans are aware of the many career opportunities available to them as well as partnerships with groups like FIRST Nevada that are helping young students prepare for the emerging science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs.
Finding an equitable and balanced solution that protects our vulnerable populations and gives Nevadans the right to work and provide for their families is a challenge we still struggle with today. The state of Nevada once had the fastest growing economy in the country. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and created both a health and economic crisis.
Our understanding of the virus has come a long way since the initial two weeks when our State and Nation shut down to slow the spread and flatten the curve; nearly a year ago. It is necessary to keep our state open for business and to get unemployed or underemployed people back to work. We must safeguard livelihoods by using our knowledge of spread mitigation and workforce vaccine integration.
We have to protect our existing industries, like mining and tourism, through sound policies that encourage innovation and spur job growth. Mining is the bedrock of our economy, and we are proud to have some of the safest and most environmentally responsible mining operators in the world. Our tourism industry sees millions of visitors a year and provides good paying jobs to thousands of Nevadans. The Silver State has led the nation in gaming’s regulatory framework and the innovation exhibited by the industry. We must resist any effort to raise taxes on the backs of businesses. Attempting to manipulate Nevada’s complex tax structure via ballot initiatives is both irresponsible and shortsighted and will hurt Nevada families.
Since mid-March, when businesses were ordered shut down, our unemployment system started to fail thousands of Nevadans, worsening their financial instability. The first round of blanket restrictions in the spring had a devastating impact on Nevada’s infrastructure, and this is still felt today. DETR’s unemployment system was inefficient and insecure; as a result, between 133,000 and 185,000 fraudulent jobless claims were filed, which cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
A recent study found that 60% of business closures due to COVID-19 are permanent. Harsher restrictions will once again cause declining sales and revenue for local businesses and an increase in unemployment – our state cannot afford this. Any blanket government shutdown is not sustainable and threatens the livelihood of many Nevadans still trying to recover from the first mandatory shutdown.
Employers and business play an important role in our communities.
We need to continue focusing resources in growing business and creating jobs without overbearing government interference, in a safe and responsible manner. We will always fight for a tax-friendly business environment to attract new and innovative high-paying permanent jobs to our state and promote small-business growth. From aerospace, information technology, manufacturing and logistics, energy and other emerging industries, Nevada should continue to provide opportunities for those with the dream, talent, and work ethic to achieve.
We saw the limitations our state government faced as it responded to the crisis.
The challenges needed to keep our economy going and to keep our people safe were evident. From draconian policies that decimated our private sector, to the mismanagement of government agencies that failed to provide individuals with much-needed resources, we saw areas that need improvement.
We believe in an effective and accountable government that will work in coordination with the private sector to provide a working framework and remain answerable to Nevadans. That includes a budget process that prioritizes transparency, accountability and open communication between community and industry leaders.
Checks and balances among the three branches of government are essential for a transparent and collaborative government. Unilateral laws that bypass legislative bodies create restrictive policies that only further damage our already struggling economy.
Republicans will continue to fight for limited government, individual liberty, and policies that will allow our businesses to thrive and our citizens to earn a living.
During the upcoming legislative session, we must reign in the overreach of our state government and safeguard individual liberty.
Confidence in our electoral integrity has reached an all-time low.
This is troubling because voting is a pressure relief valve that maintains stability and peace in a democracy by keeping politicians accountable. But for it to work, the citizenry must trust only legitimate votes are counted. Votes are the currency of our democratic republic and must be respected.
Every Nevadan who casts a ballot deserves assurance that their vote will not be nullified by a fraudulently cast vote. That’s why Republicans are pushing a slate of new bills to restore electoral confidence in the Silver State’s democratic process.
State legislatures are the proper vehicle to redress the loss of electoral trust and we must work in a bi-partisan way to enact election reform.
All eyes were on Nevada’s ballot processing that dragged on long after polls had closed. We must study states who excelled at secure processing and tabulating. Florida, haunted by the Presidential Election of 2000, processed over 11 million votes in four hours and enabled the Associated Press to call the state of Florida for President Trump at a half hour past midnight on election night. This is the standard we must emulate.
This year, we will be conducting redistricting. It is our duty to give the public a fair and transparent process devoid of special interests and gerrymandering. Constituents of all legislative districts deserve a seat at the table.
This year, as elected representatives and civic leaders of Nevada, now more than ever, we shall resolve to conduct ourselves better than what we see in Washington, to leave the paralyzing hyper-partisanship at the door, and to work together across the aisle, not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans and Nevadans.
We must return to civil debate and open and honest discourse, which is the foundation of good governance.
Lastly, I would like to honor two Nevadans that recently passed away: Nevada business titan Sheldon Adelson and Judge Steven Elliott. They will truly be missed. Our condolences to Dr. Miriam Adelson and Mendy Elliott.
Together, let us lead by example and conduct ourselves with honor, respect, and dignity.
May God bless you, may God bless our men and women in uniform, may God bless America, and may God bless the great state of Nevada.
May God keep us healthy, unified, and prosperous.
Thank you and stay strong.