30 Sep Nicole Cannizzaro
Nicole Jeanette Cannizzaro
Democrat for Nevada State Senate District 6
Candidate contact information:
Email address: Nicole4Nevada@gmail.com
Phone number: 702-703-9188
CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE RESPONSES
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 am a lifelong Nevadan. I am the proud daughter of a waitress and a bartender, who were members of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226. Growing up, we did not have a lot of money, but my parents always impressed upon me the value of a quality education. I worked hard in school and went on to earn a Guinn Millennium Scholarship, becoming the first person in my immediate family to attend college. I attended the University of Nevada, Reno, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management, and later attended law school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law. Currently, in my day job, I work as a prosecutor on the gang unit at the Clark County District Attorney’s Office. I first stepped forward to run for office in 2016 because I have a deep commitment to this community that has given me so much, and I truly wanted to make a positive difference. During my time in the Legislature, I have worked to end elder abuse, increase access to mental health services, provide workplace protections for pregnant women, and protect survivors of domestic violence. This past session, I was honored to become the first woman ever elected to the position of Majority Leader of the Nevada Senate. I am running for re-election because I want to continue fighting to improve public education, lower our rising health care costs, and expand women’s access to health care, as well as protect our state’s most vulnerable populations including our seniors, veterans, and victims of domestic violence.
What policies would you pursue to diversify the state’s economy and create new jobs that pay a living wage?
Nevada is fortunate to have an abundance of natural resources, giving us the ability to be a nationwide leader in the green industry economy. During my time in office, I have supported policies like increasing our Renewable Portfolio Standard, a carbon reduction plan, and supporting community solar projects. Green industry helps diversify Nevada’s economy and provide good-paying jobs for Nevadans, while also helping to ensure we do our part as a state to address the global climate crisis. Additionally, I believe Nevada is poised to become a leader in the technology industry, and believe we must do more to expand educational opportunities to support technology jobs here in Nevada.
The 2019 Nevada Legislature passed Assembly Joint Resolution 10 (AJR 10) to amend the Nevada Constitution to remove the two-tiered minimum wage system and ensure a set minimum wage of $12. What are your views on passing AJR 10 in the 2021 Nevada Legislative Session to put it on the ballot in 2022?:
I support raising the minimum wage. I believe that no one in this state who is working full time should live in poverty. The current minimum wage is insufficient to accomplish this objective, which is why I have supported bills that increase the minimum wage in both the 2017 and 2019 sessions. It is also important that we ensure Nevada’s small businesses can continue to thrive, and to minimize adverse impacts to our small businesses with a minimum wage increase. That is why I supported AB456 and AJR10 this past session, which will allow our small businesses to adjust as the minimum wage increase is phased in over time and allow workers to be paid a fair wage.
In 2019, Nevada joined the US Climate Alliance and took aggressive steps to address climate change by increasing our Renewable Portfolio Standard and encourage a shift to clean energy sources such as solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind. What policies do you support to continue this effort, particularly in the transportation sector?
I believe that Nevada needs more public transportation and mass transit, as well as vehicle efficiency standards and transportation electrification. Having more electric vehicles using increasingly clean energy will allow our state to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We need to have a fair tax structure that does not punish efficiency, but does ensure our roads are paid for and maintained for the long term. I also support providing more access to electric vehicle chargers for Nevadans that live in multi-family homes. I am supportive of smart policies that incentivize Nevadans to charge their vehicles when clean electricity is the most abundant and affordable.
How can the State work with localities to address the housing and homelessness crisis we are currently facing? Specifically, what measures or policies can we enact to make housing more affordable for all Nevadans?
I believe that we must do more to address the affordable housing and homelessness crises facing our state. I am opposed to the actions taken by the Las Vegas City Council last year to criminalize homelessness. That is not a solution to the problem, nor should it ever be considered as such. I support increasing the number of emergency shelters and housing opportunities for our homeless populations. I also support taking a more long term approach to the problem, such as providing more services that help the homeless find a permanent way out of their circumstances. In terms of creating more affordable housing, we should look at expanding on the work that was done last session to incentivize the construction of affordable housing here in the state.
If elected, do you support bold enhancements to the existing paid sick days law?
I am proud of the work we did last legislative session to create earned paid time off for employees for any reason. I know this policy would have been extremely helpful to working families, just like my parents when I was growing up. If I, or one of my sisters, was sick and had to stay home from school, one of my parents would have to take unpaid time off work to stay home with us, which could mean the difference between putting groceries on the table or going to bed hungry. I am supportive of looking at enhancements to this policy as we see this policy implemented, especially in light of the impact the current COVID-19 crisis is having on small businesses and employees here. The current legislation just went into effect this year, and I believe we need to monitor the progress of the law and gather information on what needs to be fixed before moving forward with any changes.
With the possibility of the Affordable Care Act being repealed by the Supreme Court, including the Medicaid expansion and protections on coverage for preexisting conditions, what should be done to address the way in which Nevadans get access to affordable health care?
The threat of losing health insurance coverage is a very real threat to hard working Nevadans, and has been a concern for some time. We took major steps to address this in 2019, including preventing Nevadans with pre-existing conditions from being denied health insurance coverage, protecting patients from surprise billing when they receive out-of-network emergency care, and lowering prescription drug costs. I also championed SCR10, which is a study on the feasibility and design of a public option that would be Nevada-specific and help address our health care needs as a state. I am hopeful that we will receive some useful and guiding information from this study that will provide a roadmap to offering affordable insurance options in order to provide meaningful, affordable and accessible health insurance coverage for Nevadans. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the study during the coming months.
The United States has become the most dangerous place in the world for a woman to give birth, especially black women. For every 100,000 live births, 42 women die. What policies would you support to protect pregnant mothers?
In 2019, we created the Maternal Mortality Review Committee to investigate maternal mortality in Nevada, and to provide recommendations for lowering the state’s maternal mortality rate. I look forward to seeing what recommendations come out of that committee and to learn more about what options we can pursue to address the high rates of maternal mortality. This is an issue I take very seriously. During my first session in 2017, I sponsored the Nevada Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act to provide protections to female employees and applicants for employment who are affected by a condition relating to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition. This legislation addressed the very real consequences of failing to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women in the workplace, and created support for employment policies that protect the health of mother and her child. I firmly believe we need to continue to find ways to help protect pregnant women in Nevada.
In 2019, Nevada state family planning grant funding was increased by way of legislation. What additional measures do you believe are still needed to ensure families have equitable access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care?
Last session, I sponsored legislation to create a standing prescription order for birth control in Nevada. The bill would allow pharmacists to dispense birth control without a doctor’s prescription while ensuring that the costs can still be covered by insurance. While the bill did not pass, I plan to take it up again next legislative session with enhancements, including allowing tele-dispensing for women living in rural communities here in Nevada. During testimony in support of the legislation, we heard from countless women concerning how difficult it can be to even schedule an appointment to seek a prescription, even where the woman had been prescribed the same birth control over many months or years. Allowing pharmacists to dispense birth control through a standing prescription will allow the flexibility to obtain birth control without unnecessary obstacles.
What do you believe is the best approach to ensure all of Nevada’s children have equal access to a quality public education? How do we address the significant education funding shortfall?
This past session, I worked with my colleagues to make sure that we could provide increased levels of funding for our public education system, including passing the largest education budget in state history. Providing Nevada’s students with a quality education and making sure our educators have what they need to be able to do their jobs is a top priority for me. It always has been and it always will be. While we made significant improvements to education this last session, I also know this is not the end of the road to improving education. I know there is more work that needs to be done to raise teacher pay, reduce class sizes, and provide more STEM and vocational training for our students. These are all policies I will continue to be focused on. Last session, we moved the marijuana excise tax dollars from the rainy day fund into the Distributive Schools Account to ensure it gets to our public schools, and we also removed the sunset from the modified business tax and put those dollars towards education. I will continue to work with stakeholders to come up with other ways we can provide more money for our schools. As a product of Nevada’s K-12 and higher education institutions, I understand that a good public education provides the true opportunity for so many kids who are able to go on and achieve success, and I will never stop fighting to make sure that kids today have those same opportunities.
The majority of Nevada’s children are children of color, and many families have been affected by current immigration policies, incarceration, and criminal sentencing policies. How would you work to address these issues to provide opportunities to all Nevadans?
I believe that our immigration system is broken and that we need comprehensive immigration reform, starting with passing legislation that protects the 800,000 plus DREAMers living in this country, many right here in Nevada. This is, however, a federal issue and something that I urge Congress to take action on. Here in Nevada, we established the Office for New Americans to help those who are new to this country navigate systems in place that can offer assistance. In relation to incarceration and criminal sentencing policies, we have worked to implement a comprehensive criminal justice reform package in the last session, and provided for the expungement of previous marijuana convictions. In the next session, I would be interested in looking into decriminalizing traffic violations not related to driver impairment, and moving to a civil penalties system. I think this is one major step we could take to ensure our criminal justice polices are fair and equitable.
What are your views on the use of Nevada’s financial resources to support the deportation efforts of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency?
Our state should remain focused on funding things like education and health care. We should not be using our limited state resources to fund federal immigration enforcement.
In 2019, Nevada significantly expanded voting rights and accessibility to voting locations. What additional measures, if any, are needed to improve the efficiency, accessibility, and integrity of elections?
From implementing automatic voter registration to expanding early vote, to allowing for same day voter registration, this last legislative session, we worked to expand access to the ballot box in significant ways, and I am proud to have been part of that effort. I think we need to see how these policies play out and then determine other areas where we can improve access, but one area I would be interested in exploring would be expanded use of vote by mail, which has been successful in increasing voter participation rates in many other states.
What are your positions on legislation to address gun violence prevention?
I supported the comprehensive, commonsense gun reform measures we took last session, including implementation of universal background checks, banning bumpstocks, and the creation of high-risk protection orders and safe storage provisions. In the future, I would like to look at implementing policies to reduce interpersonal gun violence, like homicides and nonfatal shootings. We know that Las Vegas has a higher rate of gun homicide incidents than many cities across the country. Recent research on this topic suggests that evidence-based violence intervention strategies through community groups can lead to lower rates of gun violence in areas that are most affected. During this interim, I am looking at ways we could formulate such programs in Nevada and what can be done to successfully decrease gun homicide and nonfatal shootings here in our community.
What are your views on regulating marijuana within the state of Nevada?
Last session, the Legislature and Governor worked together to establish the Cannabis Compliance Board, which I strongly supported. This board’s work has already begun, and will continue to grow until fully implemented in June 2021. I have no doubt the Cannabis Compliance Board will ensure we maintain the balance between innovation and safety, and will continue to advocate for increased transparency and accountability in the cannabis industry. Additionally, I would like to examine methods for increasing minority ownership in our retail and cultivation facilities, and to ensure we have safe working environments for the workers in these facilities.
Nevada has one of the largest shares of public land of any state in the country, providing access for a variety of recreational and commercial uses. How would you address the issues related to public lands and their continued future uses?
I fully support doing all we can to protect our public lands and ensure that they remain public for future generations to enjoy. In the 2017 session, I proudly sponsored a bill creating Public Lands day here in Nevada, urging Nevadans to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of our public lands. Our vast public lands are one of our greatest natural resources and I am committed to preserving that natural heritage for our future generations.
Nevada is experiencing a more than a decade long drought. What is your position on addressing climate change and protecting Nevada’s water supply?
Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing not just our state, but our planet as a whole. Nevada must do its part to address this crisis head-on before it’s too late. Last session, I supported our carbon reduction plan and increasing our state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. Las Vegas has been a leader in water conservation efforts for many years and I believe that we must continue to collaborate with our fellow members of the Colorado River Compact to reduce consumption, increase recycling, and explore innovative solutions such as desalination treatment plants that ensure a sustainable supply of water for the millions who depend on it.