It’s our final full day in Washington, D.C. Today, we will be on Capitol Hill for meetings with several members of Congress, including our Nevada delegation.
Last night, we hosted Nevada Lights Up the Capitol, a brand new event to showcase our entire state to several hundred members of Congress and their staffs. One of the key reasons the Metro Chamber comes to Washington is to build relationships and greater understanding about our state. Last night accomplished both objectives. Plus, it was a lot of fun and had the Rayburn House Office Building really rocking. (You can check out our Facebook and Instagram pages to see video of the party).
The party capped off another full day of policy meetings on topics important to Nevada and the business community. Wednesday began with a briefing by experts from The Brookings Institution, including Dr. Robert Lang, executive director of The Lincy Institute and director of Brookings Mountain West based at UNLV. We heard from Marek Gootman, John Hudak, Adele Morris, and Molly Reynolds on topics including infrastructure financing, Yucca Mountain, and navigating the current the political dynamics and trends. One of the key take-aways: the business community needs to figure out ways to play offense in the current political dynamics in order to get things done. If it waits for something to happen, it will get left behind. Another key observation was that Nevadans need to broaden the Yucca Mountain conversation to include how the proposed storage of nuclear waste there would negatively impact other states and communities.
We also heard from David Terry, executive director of the National Association of State Energy Offices, on energy policy. The conversation centered around energy choice, including lessons learned from other states, the risks and opportunities of a competitive energy market that should be considered as the marketplace evolves.
We had a insightful conversation with three experts from Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck regarding Yucca Mountain. Elizabeth Gore, policy director, moderated a conversation with Darien Flowers and Brian McKeon, both policy advisors at the firm, on the movement on Capitol Hill to restart the conversation and move legislation forward to open Yucca Mountain as the site to permanently store high level nuclear waste. We learned that as early as next week, the House of Representatives could pass legislation to restart the opening of Yucca, and the conversation could begin on the Senate side through the budget mark up process, although political dynamics and the rules of the Senate will likely slow down any legislation from passing right away.
While there are many hurdles and steps that would need to be taken before Yucca could house any nuclear waste, it is important for the Nevada business community to engage in the conversation. Panelists stressed that Yucca was identified as the site more than 30 years ago, and little research has been done since that time, even though science has transformed considerably since that time. Additionally, many dynamics in Las Vegas have changed during that period, including significant population growth transforming the city into a metropolitan region with more than 2 million residents and more than 42 million annual visitors. Also, since that time other factors have changed, including the rise in terrorism threats and the science regarding nuclear energy. The Las Vegas Metro Chamber will continue to strongly oppose any nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain.
Finally, we heard from Lizzy Simmons, senior director of Government Relations for the National Retail Federation on employer regulations on the federal level. She gave an update regarding the National Labor Relations Board, federal employer mandates, regulations, and oversight by the U.S. Department of Labor, and how such regulations impact employers relating to job creation, wage growth, and economic development. It was a busy day packed with insights, information, and key takeaways to make our region and our community stronger, and we look forward to more of that today as we go to the Hill.
Follow our conversations on the Hill today in real time by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, using @LVChamber. Be sure to use #LVChamberinDC to follow along!