27 Apr Howard Watts
Campaign Contact Phone: 7252223201
Please share briefly what inspired you to run for this office and why you feel you’re qualified for the position.
I was born and raised in Las Vegas and have spent my career in community service. I decided to run because I felt it would provide me a greater opportunity to help others, and that I had policy expertise particularly on environmental issues that would be beneficial in the Legislature. I am now running for my third term, having passed the vast majority of bills I've introduced and chairing the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources last year. I believe all of that experience makes me the clear choice to continue representing District 15.
Would you support allocating more state funds to help DACA recipients to help with higher education?
I support access to an affordable education for all. Unfortunately, DREAMERs can't qualify for certain programs and scholarships that help cover their costs. I support expanding those to be inclusive whenever possible, and providing additional targeted support to fill the remaining gaps.
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?
I think we can partner with local governments to help prevent homelessness by providing better outreach and intervention for those facing eviction. I'm also excited about the investments the state is making in affordable housing - one of the things that keeps people on the streets is a lack of housing that is affordable for low income residents. I think there's also a need for more robust "wraparound" services including mental and behavioral health which can help people stay housed.
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, I fully support a woman's right to control her own reproductive health and ensuring all women can access abortion care if they choose it.
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?
I'm extremely concerned about the shortage of health care providers. This is not my area of expertise, but I look forward to evaluating every idea that can help fill our community's needs, including potentially expanding existing provider roles as well as enhancing our recruitment and retention programs.
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?
Yes, and I'm particularly focused on addressing environmental health disparities.
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?
Yes, and I was proud to vote to abolish the death penalty in 2021.
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?
I am committed to advancing policies that support youth in successfully exiting homelessness. I was proud to pass a law last session that reduced barriers for homeless youth to access health care and critical documentation, and I look forward to working with local advocates and organizations to make continued progress next year.
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?
Yes, I was proud to support efforts to make Nevada an early leader in trans-inclusive civil rights laws and will continue to support efforts that advance full equality.
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?
I think it will take collaboration between state and local governments to make housing more affordable for more Nevadans. The state is investing almost a billion dollars into a range of affordable housing initiatives. I welcome additional ideas and am committed to take action on this critical issue during the next Legislative session.
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 massive land transfers. The state sold the vast majority of the trust lands it received at statehood, so the best way to keep public lands accessible for all is for them to remain federally managed with the collaboration and feedback of state and local governments. We do not have the resources to manage all of this land without federal partnership, which would just increase the pressure for privatization.
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?
We need to invest not only in our outdoor recreation, but also the preservation and restoration of critical habitat, wildfire prevention, and drought resilience. I support the conservation investments that have been made and would love to see more at all
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?
I support collaborations across all relevant state agencies as well as nonprofits to provide Spanish-speaking communities with the education and support they need to understand their health and obtain care.
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 have training and experience in analyzing policies for their equity implications, and that informs the way I craft policy and vote. I feel that I have a strong record of advancing laws that increase diverse representation on various boards and commissions, dedicate benefits of programs to historically marginalized communities, and advance priorities brought by the Indigenous peoples of this land. I will continue this approach moving forward, and am always open to learning and growing.
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?
I was proud to introduce a Student Loan Bill of Rights last year to provide these protections. Unfortunately, it failed by one vote. I hope to see it return next year and earn the support of enough of my colleagues across the aisle to become law.
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?
In 2019, I passed a law to ensure Nevada uses more water efficient fixtures like faucets, showers, etc and that our water providers have more detailed plans to save water. In 2021, I helped pass a groundbreaking law to remove non-fuctional grass in the Las Vegas area, which is the largest waste of water in our community, while keeping our parks thriving and allowing residents to keep their existing lawns. I am constantly exploring options to advance our leadership in water conservation because if we don't chart a better path forward now we will not have a sustainable water supply for the future. We all need to be ready to make additional adaptations to live water smart in a dry region.
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?
I believe that this takes a joint effort between government, businesses, and nonprofits to address food deserts. Food insecurity is also a function of poverty, and by tackling that we can address insecurity in food, housing, transportation, and utilities. I'm encouraged by gardens and other efforts to connect people to healthy foods, and am exploring additional ways to support local community agriculture.