“All of you are key economic drivers and job creators in Northern Nevada, and my goal is to make sure you have what you need to thrive.”
“For Carson City and the Silver State to succeed, your companies, organizations, and workers need to prosper.”
“I’m hopeful we can come to bipartisan solutions so that we can provide certainty for Nevada’s businesses.”
Carson City, Nev. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) delivered remarks to the members of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce today. In her remarks, the Senator addressed issues that affect businesses and workers in Northern Nevada, including trade, infrastructure, transportation, energy, housing, and health care. Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery:
Hello! I’m so glad to be here with you today to start a conversation with many of you. I know that not all of you are familiar with my background, so I want to tell you a little bit about myself and talk to you about how I see my role in supporting your members.
But first let me take a moment to thank Ronni Hannaman, the Chamber’s executive director, for putting together this event and for everything she does to strengthen Nevada’s leadership in business and innovation. And thank you to Lisa Lee, the chair of the board, for your tremendous efforts as well.
All of you are key economic drivers and job creators in Northern Nevada, and my goal is to make sure you have what you need to thrive. For Carson City and the Silver State to succeed, your companies, organizations, and workers need to prosper.
So here’s where I’m coming from:
I was born and raised in Las Vegas, and I went to college up here at UNR. Go Pack.
I was an attorney and in government for many years, working here in Carson City—first for Governor Miller, and again when I served two terms as Nevada’s Attorney General, pushing to enforce the laws of this state. As AG my office was over on Carson St., so I know Carson City well.
And since I was elected to the United States Senate in 2016, I’ve spent a lot of time here in Northern Nevada, whether in Reno, Carson City, or touring all around the rurals. My goal is truly to listen to you all.
That’s why I am here with you. Today is just the first step in an ongoing conversation about what my office can do to support you.
Please reach out to us so I can bring your voices back to Washington and make sure that your interests and concerns are represented in the nation’s capital. I mean that—we want to hear from you.
But let me talk about some issues that I already know affect you economically.
One of the top concerns I hear from businesses in Nevada is the question of tariffs and the trade war with China.
I agree with this Administration that we need to hold China accountable so that it plays by the same rules as the rest of the world.
In Washington, I believe we’ve been making progress in a bipartisan way to finalize some of the trade agreements.
But the unknown factor is this President and his policymaking by tweet, which undercuts the work that is being done by the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Lighthizer, and others to reach agreement.
I’m hopeful we can come to an agreement soon so that we can create certainty for Nevada’s small businesses. Your members ought to have that predictability. And Nevadans should have peace of mind that their jobs won’t be threatened by erratic policymaking in Washington.
I’ve also been working to protect entrepreneurs from predatory practices by franchises, which sometimes supply deceptive information to prospective franchise owners. I’ve introduced the SBA Franchise Loan Disclosure Act to bring more transparency to the process of starting a franchise and make sure that prospective franchisees have full information before they make a momentous investment.
In terms of infrastructure, I don’t have to tell you all that our roads and bridges have been neglected for far too long, both here and all across the country. I want to fix that so we can get things running smoothly for Nevada industry.
This is a no-brainer! It’s a bipartisan issue, and it’s simply common sense to make sure that we’re able to move goods and people to the communities where they need to be.
To do that, I’ve been working hard during the 2019 transportation authorization and appropriations process to improve federal policies and reduce congestion. We need both more funding and better long-term planning for interstates across Nevada.
In addition to maintaining the kind of infrastructure we’re all familiar with, we need to do more to plan for the transportation needs of the future.
So-called SMART transportation will let us leverage innovative technology to reduce costs, increase safety, and improve efficiency while reducing air pollution at the same time.
To support SMART cities around the state, I’ve re-introduced the Moving FIRST Act with my Republican colleague Senator Burr. This bill would create a grant program to speed commerce all over the Silver State.
I’m also proud of the leading role Nevada is taking in the creation of renewable energy and clean energy transportation.
I’m fighting to expand green transportation by providing tax incentives and federal funding so that state and local governments can incorporate new technologies into their fleets, and American consumers can better access it.
By investing in green vehicle infrastructure, we’re not only making our towns and cities more accessible—we’re also creating high-paying, sustainable jobs and saving businesses money at the pump.
I’m always working to find ways to work across the aisle and bring more federal dollars and private investment to Nevada. That includes federal funds from grants.
I’m so pleased that we’ve been able to secure money for road upgrades here in Carson City, among many other programs.
Another issue many of you are confronting is the threat of cyberattack. Most smaller businesses just don’t have the information or resources to address it.
That’s why I’m working on the bipartisan SECURE Small Business Act, which will establish a co-op at the SBA to provide recommendations, information sharing, and the opportunity for small businesses to pool together to purchase suitable products.
If we can pass this bill, it will make it much easier for you to protect yourselves from catastrophic attacks.
Beyond these things that directly affect your bottom lines, I’m pushing to address workforce issues that have a more indirect impact.
One of the biggest issues in Nevada is our affordable housing crisis. Here in the northern part of the state, we’re facing one of the most severe housing shortages in the nation, and I’m very aware that it hurts your ability to recruit and retain qualified employees.
I have cosponsored the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act to provide 1.3 million more affordable rental homes nationwide in the next ten years. This bill would be a critical step to support state-wide legislative efforts to address our housing challenges here in Nevada, and to create tens of thousands of new affordable units for low-income Nevadans.
And when this Administration threatened to eliminate the National Housing Trust Fund, I worked with the entire Nevada delegation to get the Fund—which represents $245 million—restored. As a result, Nevada received $3 million in Housing Trust funds this year.
The other big workforce issue is health care. For small businesses that want to recruit and retain qualified employees, one of the most important issues is the kind of health care plans they can offer.
So I understand that small business coverage is an area where we need to improve affordability—for you and for the people who work for you.
From what I’ve seen, association health plans offered by the chamber members that include essential health benefits like maternity and mental health coverage are doing well by their enrollees. We’re continuing to have conversations to find out how satisfied members are with their current health plans and how I can help at the federal level.
And so when it comes to association health care plans, we’re working on them. Our goals are, one, to make things more certain for you and your employees, and two, to minimize disruption, so people and businesses don’t have to flip from plan to plan. I’ll keep pushing until I have better solutions on this.
So those are a few of the things I’m doing to advocate for you in Washington. But again, I really urge you to take advantage of all the avenues available to you to get federal support, and my office is here to help you do that.
Please reach out to us, and thank you so much for your time today and for all you do.