Sen. Rosen addresses joint session of NV Legislature

CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) addressed a joint session of the Nevada State Legislature Monday night. Rosen addressed issues such as Yucca Mountain, the secret plutonium shipments made to Nevada by the Department of Energy, education, health care and women making history in the Silver State.

Rosen's speech was short but targeted specifics including the future of Yucca Mountain.

"There are places that want nuclear waste," Rosen says. "New Mexico, Texas and if somebody wants it then we should give them the opportunity to take it."

Rosen says recently reintroduced legislation like the Consent Based Nuclear Waste Act will put waste in states that want it.

Rosen says she is working with Nevada Governor Sisolak and Attorney General Ford on holding the Trump Administration accountable for the secret plutonium shipments made to Nevada.

"We don't want secret shipments of plutonium coming here," she says. "First of all, they're dangerous, they're crossing our highways, our railways, across so many states; that's not safe and it's not safe for us to have here in Nevada."

Rosen says Ford introduced an injunction barring any future shipments. She also says the entire Nevada Delegation met with the Department of Energy for a classified briefing regarding those shipments.

Some on the other side of the aisle question if more could have been done do prevent the shipments from arriving in Nevada in the first place.

"The body, the Nevada state was allowed to have information about that; however, not specific shipment dates because that would be a national security issue," Nevada State Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer (R-District 7) says. "So they chose to be cut off from certain meetings which means they were left out of critical information. Do I believe Nevada should have more stake in the game when it comes to this stuff? Absolutely."

Rosen closed out her speech congratulating the women in the legislature who made history with the first-ever female majority in the country.

"One day we will be in the history and we will be the state that students read about to learn about the day this glass ceiling was broken, so it's very surreal to be part of it and yet I'm so proud because I know the example it sets for all Americans," Assemblywoman Brittney Miller (D-District 5) says.

Read the full text of Senator Rosen’s Speech below, as prepared for delivery:

Good evening, and thank you to Governor Sisolak, Lieutenant Governor Marshall, constitutional officers, members of the Supreme Court, Speaker Frierson, Majority Leader Cannizzaro, Minority Leaders Settelmeyer and Wheeler, and members of our Nevada State Assembly and Senate. I’m honored and humbled to be addressing you tonight as your newest Senator from our great state of Nevada. It’s incredible to think of how much our beloved state has progressed since I last addressed this chamber in April of 2017.

Tonight, I look forward to sharing my vision of how we can work together -- across all levels of government -- to continue on this road of progress, because in Nevada, we’re going above and beyond and we’re doing things that no other state in the country has ever done.

At the forefront of this journey is a person who has led this chamber with great humility. Speaker Frierson, I have faith that under your guidance, our state will continue to transcend barriers and make historic gains.

Speaking of historic gains, many people are calling this the year of the woman, and that’s because when women put their minds together there is no new ground that we cannot break, and there is no glass ceiling that we cannot shatter. And since November, we have been shattering those glass ceilings. We did so when we became the first state ever to have a majority-female legislature. We did so when you elected me as your U.S. Senator, electing not your first, but your second woman to fight in the Senate. We did so when you elected a female majority State Supreme Court. And we did so a few weeks ago, when you selected Senator Nicole Cannizzaro as the first female majority leader in Nevada history. Congratulations Nicole.

At the helm of this historic Legislature is our own Governor who is committed to working with anyone who will help move our state forward and create a stronger Nevada.

I’m so proud to look around this chamber and see so much diversity. Our diversity is a testament to true representation…

And it’s through embracing our diversity and our immigrant story that Nevada will continue to reflect the changing face of our nation. Through initiatives like the Governor’s office for New Americans and by embracing policies that make it easier for everyone to vote, we can create a democracy that truly reflects Nevada as a whole. Nevada is leading the way in more ways than one, and we’re seeing this everyday from our leaders right here in Carson City.

In one of the first actions taken by our Attorney General, Nevada joined the fight, along with sixteen other states, to defend coverage protections for pre-existing conditions. Thank you Attorney General Ford. And during my first few weeks as Senator, I helped lead the same effort to defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, because at the end of the day, there’s no issue that affects every single Nevadan more than health care.

Close to 1.2 million Nevadans live with a pre-existing condition… so we know what’s at stake for these families if they’re no longer able to have access to life-saving care, and that’s why we’re fighting back. As a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, I will work every day to bring resources and accountability to our health care system.

One of the reasons why we rank near the bottom when it comes to access to care, is because we continue to face a physician shortage. This is especially true for Nevadans living in rural communities, with many of our state’s rural residents having to drive hundreds of miles to seek medical care, or they simply go without care. That’s unacceptable.

We need forward-thinking solutions, such as investing in telehealth programs, increasing our medical residency slots, so that we’re able to provide families with greater access to critical health services. And we must bring transparency to all aspects of drug pricing, because no person should be forced to decide between paying their bills or paying for life-saving medicines.

Investing in telehealth will also help us address issues such as improving access to mental health services… another area where we rank last in the nation, which is why I applaud Governor Sisolak for including the largest investment in mental health services in our state’s history in his proposed budget. I know we can solve the health issues affecting our state, because this legislature is just as committed to protecting Nevadans’ health care as I am.

And as we fight for the health and the well-being of all Nevadans, we must also strive to protect our communities from the gun violence epidemic. I was proud to see our state legislature respect the will of Nevada voters, who overwhelmingly support common sense gun safety measures, like expanding commercial background checks, and closing loopholes to prevent dangerous individuals from getting their hands on a weapon. Now that the Nevada legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives have taken action, it is time for the U.S. Senate to follow suit! Don’t you think?

In Nevada, we’re leading the way, doing right by hardworking families - in areas like clean energy and technology. As a former computer programmer, I’m so excited about our state’s growing tech industry. It’s also an area where I want to highlight the work of our friends across the aisle along with the members of the bipartisan Tech Caucus. Your work in the tech space is helping put Nevada on the map as an incubator for new technologies.

And tech isn’t the only bold industry Nevada’s embracing. We’ve seen millions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs created since we legalized recreational marijuana. In Congress, I’ll support legislation to protect our state’s right to regulate marijuana and I’ll work to give marijuana businesses access to our banking system, so they can safely operate and contribute to our economy.

Another aspect of our economy as a Western State is the importance of protecting our public lands and natural resources, while advancing efforts to create new green jobs and infrastructure. I’m thrilled to see this legislative body leading the way on expanding Nevada's renewable energy sector, and helping our state become a global leader in renewable technologies.

Whether it be embracing a clean energy economy, supporting Nevada’s new tech businesses, or improving access to broadband in all corners of Nevada, one issue that will strengthen our economy and help us grow is improving our state’s education system. This past week, I introduced my bipartisan Building Blocks of STEM Act in Congress. This legislation would make investments in early childhood STEM education, providing our children with opportunities to explore STEM-related fields at an early age. I’m proud to work across the aisle on this issue, and I hope to see more initiatives that invest in STEM education for our kids championed here at home. Because its only through robust, quality education that we can build a strong workforce that will help grow Nevada’s economy.

Let me also add that no force is as vital to Nevada’s economic development than our workers. I started my journey here in Nevada as a member of the Culinary union. It’s our workers who keep Nevada’s economy running. And I’m happy to see this body acknowledge the work that needs to be done in order to restore and expand labor rights in Nevada. Again, I thank Governor Sisolak and this legislature for making state employees and their ability to collectively bargain a top priority.

Oour state is proud to have over 226,000 veterans who have proudly protected and defended our nation. One way we can honor our servicemembers is by helping our heroes successfully transition to civilian life once they’ve completed their military service. After talking to countless veterans and military families across Nevada, I decided to introduce the Hire Student Veterans Act as my first bill in the Senate. This bipartisan legislation incentivizes businesses to hire our student vets who are currently using their GI benefits to study. I know this commonsense legislation will put student vets on the pathway towards success, and I know Nevada will benefit from it.

There are so many areas where I’m proud of our coordinated effort as a delegation, but I am especially proud to stand strong against this Administration's repeated efforts to revive Yucca Mountain. Nevada has made it clear: we will not become the nation’s dumping ground for nuclear waste.

And just this January we learned that the Department of Energy had gone behind Nevada’s back to ship weapons-grade plutonium into our state, in secret. They misled a federal court, members of Nevada’s delegation, and even our past and present governors. Let me be clear, this violation of our state’s rights and trust will not stand, and our state and federal delegations will hold this Administration accountable for its reckless actions that put our environment, our economy, and our health at risk.

Defending access to health care, supporting growth and economic development, protecting our public lands, investing in children’s education, and honoring and supporting Nevada’s heroes – these are just a few areas where we can work together -- on both the federal and state levels -- to improve the lives of hardworking Nevada families.

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be travelling across our state this week – from here in Carson City to Winnemucca, Elko, and Ely, with stops in Fernley, Fallon, Lovelock and West Wendover -- to meet with Nevadans and listen to their stories, because I know that’s how we’re going to make real change happen by listening to the needs of our constituents, by listening to the voices of those that sent us here to represent them; and by working together to boldly create a healthy, educated and economically-empowered future. I look forward to working with all of you to fight for our Battle born state, to stand up for our rights, and to build a future that improves the lives of ALL hardworking Nevadans, for us, for our children, and for generations to come.

Thank you.