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Congressional District 1 - Dina Titus - Democrat

Name: Dina Titus

Office: Congressional District 1 seat

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Website: www.dinatitus.com

Biography provided by the candidate:

Serving the First Congressional District of Nevada, Congresswoman Dina Titus has built a strong record of achievement as both an educator and a public servant. As a professor, Dr. Titus taught American and Nevada government classes from 1979 through June 2011 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she has professor emeritus status. A noted non-fiction writer, she is internationally known for her expertise in the history and policies related to nuclear power, weaponry and waste, as well as for her knowledge of the popular lore of "Atomic Culture."

In 1988, Dina was elected to represent the people of District Seven in the Nevada State Senate, serving as the Democratic Minority Leader from 1993 to 2008. During her service in the Nevada Legislature, Dina Titus was a champion for quality education and renewable energy development, and was a strong advocate on behalf of Nevada’s children, seniors and persons with disabilities.

Currently in her third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Dina is a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and its Aviation, Highways and Transit, and Water Resources and Environment Subcommittees. She also serves on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs and is Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA). She is a member of the Senior Whip Team for the minority and serves on a number of caucuses, including the USO Caucus, the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, the Hellenic Caucus, the Travel and Tourism Caucus, the Congressional Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform, and the Cannabis Working Group. She is Co-Chair of the I-11 Caucus and founder and Co-Chair of the House Public Works and Infrastructure Caucus.

Support comes from

Dina has received numerous awards from various state and local organizations, but one of her proudest moments came in 2006 with the dedication of the Dina Titus Estates, an innovative affordable housing complex for disabled Nevadans, named in recognition of Dina's tireless advocacy.

Dina grew up in the small town of Tifton, Georgia, with her parents, Joe and Betty Titus, and her younger sister, Dr. Rho Hudson, who is a special education consultant and a founding faculty member of Nevada State College. Dina is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, holds a master's degree from the University of Georgia, and earned her doctorate degree at Florida State University.

Dina has been married to Professor Thomas C. Wright for over 37 years. Tom Wright, a Latin American historian, received the prestigious UNLV Distinguished Professor award in 2008 and is the author of a number of award-winning books, most notably on political exile and human rights. John Wright Hall on campus is named for his father, pioneer professor at UNLV.

Question: Do you support ANY form of background check for gun sales?

Yes. I am a gun owner and I support background checks for gun sales. I am a co-sponsor of H.R. 1217, the Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, which would extend background checks to sales of firearms over the Internet and at gun shows. H.R. 1217 also would reauthorize the grant program for improvements to the criminal history record system to better detect individuals who should not possess a firearm. I supported President Obama’s executive order in January of this year to clarify that any individual in the business of selling firearms must obtain a license through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and conduct background checks on prospective gun purchasers. Recently, I was one of the members of the House who staged a sit-in on the House floor to protest the Republican leadership’s refusal to consider common sense reforms. House Democrats asked the Republican leadership to bring two bills to the floor for a vote. The first, the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015, H.R. 1076, stated that if you’re too dangerous to fly, you’re too dangerous to buy a gun. The second was the previously mentioned H.R. 1217. These are reasonable reforms that do not deny legitimate individuals the right to buy and own a gun; instead they go right to the issue of denying guns to people who should not have them. I support 2016 Nevada general election ballot Question 1 which is similar to my federal legislation and would require that an unlicensed person who wishes to sell or transfer a firearm to another person conduct the transfer through a licensed gun dealer who runs a background check, while exempting transfers between family members. 

Question: What is your plan to work across the aisle to end partisan gridlock? 

As a member of the minority party in the House of Representatives, I have found ways to gain support for legislation I have proposed, particularly on issues affecting veterans and infrastructure. In spite of a deeply divided House of Representatives, I have been able to get bills passed that reduced the backlog of veterans’ disability claims, provided cost-of-living adjustments to disabled veterans’ benefits, and created medical residency programs at VA hospitals to give veterans better access to care. I also succeeded in adding several amendments to the FAST Act. Amendments I included in the FAST Act extended the authorization for I-11, brought travel and tourism leaders into planning national transportation strategies, and increased utilization of "complete streets" to ensure that all methods of transportation are accounted for when designing roads in our community. Overall, I believe you first must find common ground with your colleagues of the other party, and then work with them to craft and pass legislation that benefits people, putting politics aside. In the past, there has been a spirit of compromise in Congress that allowed for the passage of important legislation, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the creation of the Medicare and Medicaid programs in 1965. Republican President Eisenhower and a Democratic Congress launched the Interstate Highway system and NASA. Democrats in Congress worked with Republican President Nixon to approve legislation creating the Environmental Protection Agency, and authorizing the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. In 2008, at the height of the financial crisis, House and Senate Democrats worked with Republican President George W. Bush to pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Good public policy must take precedence over politics. I plan to continue working to persuade my colleagues in both parties that Americans want action on issues important to them – jobs, education, environmental protection, immigration reform, and others – and the only way to make progress is to find some common ground and work from there to do what is best for all Americans. 

Question: What is the ONE  Nevada issue you plan to bring to the national dialogue?  

I believe the one Nevada-specific issue we need to be highly concerned about is the continued push in the Republican Congress to store high-level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. While the Obama administration has effectively blocked funding for a high-level nuclear waste dump in Nevada, there have been recent efforts to resurrect it. In July, the House Subcommittee on Environment and Economy held a hearing to promote a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain entitled, “Federal, State, and Local Agreements and Associated Benefits for Spent Nuclear Fuel Disposal.” It was another attempt to bribe Nevada to accept the dump in exchange for benefits. I told the committee, “Members of Congress may board a plane to my District and then be shuttled out to the desert north of town for a photo op where they can see the dry and desolate moonscape where Yucca Mountain is located. But they should not be fooled by such a superficial look at lands Nevadans love and want to protect. Southern Nevada is not a wasteland. It is home to unique desert habitats, rare and endangered species of plants and animals, iconic wildlife like Big Horn Sheep and Desert Tortoises, and cultural resources from Native American tribes dating back thousands of years. Such a quick visit also ignores the fact that beneath the surface are major fault lines and a water table that moves toward the Las Vegas Valley. Furthermore, the waste to be stored has to be shipped thousands of miles across the nation on highways and byways that travel through small towns and big cities, farmlands and scenic preserves, near churches, schools, and neighborhoods in almost every Member’s district. God forbid there be an accident.” Rather than succumbing to bribes to take the nation’s nuclear waste, I want to continue rebuilding our economy by investing in our infrastructure to create good-paying jobs for Nevadans. For instance, as a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I have advocated for a long-term transportation plan that includes construction of Interstate 11 between Las Vegas and Phoenix. I also support the “Make it in America” initiative in Congress that would create preferences for domestically produced goods and creation of a national infrastructure bank to build partnerships between government and businesses – creating more good jobs in Nevada. 

Question: Rooftop solar vs. the state’s power utility –and potentially breaking up the energy monopoly in Nevada -- is shaping up to be one of this year’s greatest battles in the state. Should Nevada break up NV Energy’s regulated monopoly?

As a pioneer in promoting renewable energy in the Nevada Legislature in the 1990s, I successfully sponsored legislation in 1997 to allow net metering, which created incentives for consumers to install rooftop solar systems and reduce their utility bills. I was highly disappointed by the decision of the Nevada Public Utilities Commission this year to raise rates on consumers with rooftop solar systems, which has had the effect of driving rooftop solar companies out of Nevada and resulted in the loss of hundreds of good-paying jobs. Governor Brian Sandoval has said he will propose legislation in the 2017 Nevada Legislature to grandfather existing solar consumers back into their previous rates. While I support this, it would not recreate the incentives for new solar consumers to buy and solar companies to install rooftop solar systems. I believe the Nevada Legislature should also raise the cap in state law on the number of rooftop solar systems allowed in Nevada and look for a compromise that phases in any reasonable rate increase determined to be necessary. This will bring renewable energy jobs back to Nevada and lower costs as more rooftop solar systems are installed. If this effort fails, the next step would be to consider deregulating Nevada’s energy market and opening it to competition, as reflected in ballot question 3. 

(Editor's note: The candidate's biography and answers were not edited for content or length)

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