The R&R government affairs team is busily tracking bills and generally keeping its finger on the pulse of the capital goings-on in Nevada during the 76th session of the Legislature. The following is one in an occasional series of blogs designed to bring you news, interviews and perspectives that we think you’ll find interesting and valuable.
The Hispanic Caucus
The 2011 Nevada Legislature not only includes a large freshman class, but also the largest number of Hispanic lawmakers in the history of the body. Eight legislators – two senators and six assemblymen and women – are of Hispanic descent, and have formed a Hispanic Caucus. We talked to two of these legislators about the need for a Hispanic Caucus, the role the caucus will play this session, and what issues will be at the forefront of their minds.
Senator Mo Denis:
“The biggest significance of the Hispanic Caucus is that more voices for the Latino community will be heard. Additionally, our Latino elected officials are well qualified and diverse. They are not just Hispanic; they are quality public servants who will serve Nevada well. Expectations are high, but I’m not expecting us to change the world overnight. I do expect great things from each and every one of them this session. While we all need to succeed individually we will all be there for each other. Not only will more Hispanic legislators be involved this session, but there will also be more Hispanic members of the lobby corps and there will be more Hispanic advocates coming to lobby the legislators.”
Assemblywoman Lucy Flores:
“We always say that Latino issues are American issues and that’s definitely the case. A couple of distinct issues that Latinos face are language issues and immigration. That being said, everything facing the state (education, jobs, etc.) are issues that matter to everyone, and the problem is that these issues disproportionately affect the Latino community. In terms of education, Latinos represent a disproportionate number of drop outs. Latinos represent a disproportionate number of teen pregnancies. That’s where someone needs to step in and try to address these issues with a unique perspective.”
“We are a growing population segment, and that’s one of the roles that the caucus has to play. We have to recruit the next generation of leaders and develop leaders in our community. We are trying to get to proportionate representation. If we have a state that’s thirty percent Hispanic, then arguably you should have a Legislature that has the same make-up. I also find it shameful that we don’t have any Asian legislators. We have a large Asian community in Las Vegas, and not one Asian member of the legislature. It’s always a problem when you don’t have that diverse perspective, whether cultural or economic. We’re not a homogeneous community, and when you don’t take all of these differences into account, you end up with bad policy.”