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Government Shutdown? Blue Or Red Wave? Titus Looks Ahead


Will there be a government shutdown over a proposed wall along the southern border?

Who will come out to vote in November, progressives or conservatives?

Does it matter to Congress who sits in Nevada’s governor’s mansion?

Congresswoman Dina Titus (D)-NV., joins KNPR to talk about those questions and more.

On the passing of Paul Laxalt:

“He is certainly well respected across both parties, across generations… Here at home working with Ronald Regan, saving Lake Tahoe to a certain extent, creating the Tahoe Regional Planning Commission will certainly be a legacy for the whole nation as well as for Nevada.”

Titus admits she didn’t know him but she met him and knew his reputation. She noted that although he was in a different part than former Senators Harry Reid and Richard Bryan they both considered Laxalt a friend and spoke highly of them.

She said that kind of respect and friendships across party lines is less common today.

On possible similarities between the late Paul Laxalt and his grandson Adam Laxalt, who is running for governor:

“I don’t think there are many similarities beyond the name.”

Titus pointed out that Paul Laxalt is from Nevada and grew up in the state. But Adam Laxalt came to the state to run for office.

Also, she believes there are things Adam Laxalt has done that Paul Laxalt would not have done. Titus said Paul Laxalt prided himself in being willing to reach across the aisle but Adam Laxalt is not willing to compromise.

On whether it matters to federal lawmakers who is governor of Nevada:

“We work together on many issues on the federal and state level, for example, Yucca Mountain we’ll have a strong relationship and partnership. I-11 that we’re trying to get built from here to Phoenix will be another example.”

Titus supports Steve Sioslak for governor. She has known him for 30 years. She says he has the leadership qualities Nevada needs.

On Question 3 the ballot question that would restructure Nevada’s energy market:

“When you say ‘choice’ everybody thinks that’s a good idea but they need to look at the facts behind deregulation…  because what I see is you create a system where the big players with the volume of scale can pull out and they will have a choice but it will leave the small players who are my constituents in the system that will be forced to raise rates.”

Titus says she resisted a similar move when she was in the Legislature in the 90s. Back then, Enron wanted to come into Nevada and offer energy choice.

She is also opposed to the measure because it would take the Public Utilities Commission out of the equation and it could potentially hurt net metering, which is the money rooftop solar users get for putting energy back into the grid.

On Question 6 which would increase Nevada’s renewable energy portfolio:

“When first put that in place, I believe it was 10 percent, so when you keep meeting the standard you move the number higher.”

The measure would require 50 percent of Nevada’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2030 – right now the mandate is 25 percent by 2025.

Titus says Nevada is already a leader in solar power and this would help even more to reduce the state’s carbon footprint.

She would also like to see a national renewable energy portfolio standard put in place.

On gun control:

“I don’t like the term gun control because people think that means they’re going to control their choices or take away their guns or do away with the Second Amendment. I think gun violence prevention is a better reflection of the kind of measures I support.”

For example, Titus supports stopping the distribution of plans to download and print 3D guns. She would also like to see bump stocks banned. Bump stocks were used by the shooter in the October 1 massacre on the Las Vegas Strip to make his weapons fire at a faster rate.

On the Midterm Elections:

“I think that the progressives are very motivated. They’ve been working very hard to keep the motivation up ever since the Women’s March that occurred right after the inauguration. Lots of organizations are in place. Lots of small contributions to candidates.”

Titus believes Democrats will come out this fall and vote. She believes the House will be in the hands of the Democrats.

If that happens, she’ll move up in seniority in the House.    

On the partisan environment in Washington, D.C.:

“It is frustrating that nothing is getting done because of partisanship. It is also kind of disgusting to me that Republicans will stand in the elevator and talk about Donald Trump as though they don’t like him and then they’ll go right to the floor and vote for his issues or his nominees or defend him,” she said.

She said things are very, very partisan over things that should not be partisan like bridges. She sits on an infrastructure subcommittee. But neither party wants to give the other party a win.

On efforts at the federal level to protect Nevada’s marijuana industry:

“It’s a big business here in Nevada and most of the dispensaries are right in my district, which is the heart of the valley.”

Titus has signed on to legislation that would stop the Justice Department from going after people in states that have legalized marijuana, another would allow banks to work with marijuana businesses, another would allow for more research of the medical uses of marijuana and yet another would allow medical marijuana to be used as a treatment at the VA.

On a potential government shutdown over border wall funding:

“I do not believe we are going to shut down the government over this wall. The president may change his mind two or three times between now and September when the deadline comes but you’ve seen the head of the Senate and the head of the House both say, shutting down the government is not a good thing.”

Titus says there is not a lot of enthusiasm for the idea among Democrats and some Republicans are also opposed to it.

She said it looks like chaos and it gives the idea to voters that the governing party – the Republicans – can’t really governor.

On family separation at the border:

“It’s a disaster. They put this no tolerance plan in place without any forethought about how to keep track of the children, how to reunite the children, how to take care of the children while they had them separated.”

Titus talked to the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services about whether any of the children have ended up in Nevada and they have not.

But she calls the practice, which has now been stopped, a “stain” on the United States’ image. While separating families have stopped, Titus said officials are struggling to reunite families.

Rep. Dina Titus (D)-NV., Congressional District 1

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.