27 Apr David Orentlicher
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Please share briefly what inspired you to run for this office and why you feel you’re qualified for the position.
My background is in medicine and law. I earned both degrees at Harvard and practiced in each field. Currently, I teach health law and constitutional law at the UNLV Boyd School of Law. As a scholar in health policy, I have testified before Congress, had my writing cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, and served as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama in 2008 and Joe Biden in 2020.
I also have a strong record of achievement as a state legislator. In my first term last year, I authored legislation to reduce overdose deaths from opioid use and to increase revenues from investments of state funds. Previously, I served for six years in the Indiana legislature (2002-2008) and authored laws to lower the cost of health care insurance, protect children from abuse or neglect, and increase funding for start-up companies so they can create new jobs.
I am running for re-election to continue my work to improve our health care system. Even before COVID, we faced critical concerns regarding the prevention of disease, access to health care, and affordability of care. COVID has only intensified these problems.
Would you support allocating more state funds to help DACA recipients to help with higher education?
How will the state fight the growing issue of homelessness that is increasing in our communities and use funds to expand on shelters for these community members?
The increase in the minimum wage from the 2019 legislative session will be very helpful, as will policies for diversifying our economy and creating good paying jobs. In addition, we need to put more resources into “housing first” programs that give homeless persons a permanent place to live. For example, we should expand the use of programs in which local and state governments partner with non-profit and for-profit organizations to increase funding for affordable housing. It’s a smart investment that reduces homelessness, improves public health, and lowers health care costs.
Nevada has historically protected the right to abortion, including protecting the right in statute 30 years ago by a vote of the people. However, there remain barriers to access in the state. Do you support not only the right to abortion but policies that improve equitable access to abortion care?
Yes, and for many years, I have worked with Planned Parenthood, the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, and other groups to improve equitable access to abortion care and to persuade federal and state courts across the country to invalidate restrictive abortion regulations. In some cases, I have provided expert affidavits, and in other cases, I have organized friend of the court briefs presenting the views of experts in bioethics.
The state of Nevada is facing an unprecedented shortage of health care providers – a problem that impacts every area of medicine, including the provision of sexual and reproductive care. Do you support removing the physician-only requirement and allowing advanced practice clinicians (APCs) to provide this vital care to patients with training and certification?
It is well documented that patients of color face greater obstacles to obtaining sexual and reproductive health care than non-Hispanic white Americans – a pattern that results in worse health outcomes overall for BIPOC patients. Do you not only acknowledge systemic racism’s role in public health disparities but will you pursue policies that seek to rectify the historical harm of systemic racism and advance equitable access to health care?
Knowing that the death penalty is exorbitantly expensive, racially discriminatory, and does not promote true healing for victims family members, do you support its abolition and do you think ending the death penalty is a crucial part of criminal justice reform?
True Colors United, a national organization that implements innovative solutions to youth homelessness that focus on the unique experiences of LGBTQ+ young people continues to rate Nevada as critically low, for its State Index on Youth Homelessness (in collaboration with the National Homelessness Law Center) that ranks and scores laws and policies related to preventing and addressing youth homelessness in the United States. Are you willing to support legislation that helps to fund and provide oversight regulations to youth homelessness services?
Anti-transgender bills are being introduced across the United States that attempt to prevent trans people from having access to health care, gender reassignment surgery, and access to sports in schools. Do you support transgender equality and access to healthcare and an athletic school experience?
We have seen rental rates increasing at a very alarming rate, in some instances upwards of 30%. How do you see the Nevada Legislature taking action to keep Nevadans in their homes and not being priced out?
This is a critical concern in the state, and it is essential that we act to keep Nevadans in their homes. We will likely need to employ a range of policies, including greater subsidies for families who cannot afford rental rates and reforms to accelerate the building of new housing.
Nevada has one of the largest shares of federal public land of any state in the country, providing important wildlife habitat, places to hunt, camp, fish and hike, and acting as the foundation of a billion dollar outdoor industry. Even so, some lawmakers have promoted policies that seek wholesale transfer of federal ownership of our national lands to states. A) Would you support or oppose these land transfer policies? B) Would should the State of Nevada’s role be in the management and ownership of federal land?
I oppose large scale transfers of public land. State and local governments lack the resources needed to manage and protect public lands. It is important to ensure active consultation and collaboration among federal, state, and local officials in managing our public lands.
State investments in conservation provide resources for a wide range of public benefit, like the management of wildlife and state land, and the creation and maintenance of trails and other recreational facilities. In 2019, the Legislature approved $217 million of bonding authority for conservation purposes, including for the acquisition of land for new state parks. A) Do you support or oppose state investment in conservation? B) Has Nevada’s investment in land conservation been too little, too much, or about right, and how would you change it?
State investment in conservation must be a priority for the legislature, and we need to increase our investment.
Would you support addressing public health disparities in Nevada’s diverse Spanish speaking population by funding a “Promotores de Salud” program through the Nevada Office of New Americans that provides year round, culturally competent education and community engagement in Spanish on public health issues?
What are you doing to center communities of color and low-income communities in your work, and how do you ensure that equity is part of every decision you make?
I am working on several legislative proposals for next session, and all of them are designed to reduce inequities for communities of color and low-income communities. For example, smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths, and the harms of smoking fall disproportionately on Black and lower-income Nevadans. I am working on a bill to reduce smoking. I also am working on a proposal to change our system of fines and fees, so it takes into account the offender's income. This will ensure that lower-income persons are not forced to pay unaffordable amounts that can lead to jail time and loss of employment and housing.
The APIA community faces the largest unmet financial needs when it comes to higher education. Nevada has the highest student loan default rate in the country. In Nevada, there are 333,100 student loan borrowers, $11.5 Billion in student loan debt, and $34,700 in average debt per borrower. What policies can we implement to ensure students and families are protected from predatory lenders and undue financial burdens?
We need to establish greater state protections for student borrowers and hold private lenders to a higher standard. Assembly Bill 382 (2021), which I voted for, would have created a Student Loan Bill of Rights. I look forward to seeing the measure return and pass.
Latinx communities are extremely concerned about the drought and ongoing water shortages. What would you do to ensure our families have a sustainable water supply, not just now but also future generations?
We have done much to reduce water consumption, and we need to redouble our efforts. We have been very successful with water capture and recycling, and we need to continue to reduce use of water that cannot be recycled, as with the Water Smart Landscapes program.
We also need to do more to address the climate change that is aggravating our water shortages. Fortunately, we are well-positioned to be a leader in solar and other renewable energies, and we should take greater advantage of our excellent solar, geothermal, and wind resources. SB 358 in 2019 set good standards for the use of renewable energy, and we need to do more to make sure we meet those standards.
One out of seven people in Clark County are food insecure. What policies would you propose to ensure people are not residing in food deserts and have access to healthy food and water sources?
Access to healthy food and water are critical needs, and we can do much more to ensure food security. Increases in food stamp subsidies, incentives for grocers, and support for community gardens are important steps.