Before securing their blue wave of victory last year, Nevada Democrats running for Congress and state offices promised to push forward with parts of a progressive agenda that have stalled in Nevada and the nation. This weekend some of those same Democrats appeared with advocates who say they are going to ensure promises before the election were more than just campaign rhetoric.
“Every month we will be going to Carson City,” said Leo Murrieta, director of Make the Road Nevada (MRNV), an organization that advocates for immigrants and the working class, and that held several events attended by politicians during last year’s campaign.
“We are going to tell our stories and the stories of our families. We are going to change the hearts and minds of our elected officials because they don’t think our families count. Every time, the rich are heard first and we are second.”
Make the Road Nevada marked its first anniversary Saturday, and the group commemorated it by unveiling with what they called their Economic Justice Legislative Policy Platform.
The group is prioritizing five issues: raising the minimum wage, enacting paid sick leave, making housing more affordable, providing professional occupational licensing regardless of legal status, and updating the state’s DMV systems to transfer drivers’ licenses from U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico.
During the election, Make the Road Nevada estimates it spoke to nearly 75,000 voters. The group also registered voters, and canvased heavily in the days and hours leading up to election day, much of their efforts concentrated in competitive state Senate districts.
Nevada’s left-leaning political nonprofits, like MRNV, helped mobilize an eager electorate and provided financial and human resources to state Democrats who won all but one statewide office on the ballot.
And Nevada’s progressive coalition is expecting a payoff.
But members of the group are convinced progressive legislation will not advance without continued efforts from organized movements.
MRNV will be supporting legislation by Freshman Democratic Assemblywoman Selena Torres of Las Vegas make professional occupational licensing available to applicants regardless of their legal status.
The Trump Administration has gradually rollbacked protections for immigrants and has promised to phase out programs like Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which offers no direct path to citizenship but allows holders to live and work in the U.S.
Immigration advocates argue that it is now up to individual states to rewrite business code to allow immigrants the possibility to obtain licenses in their professional fields regardless of documentation status.
Another popular item for progressive groups and one MRNV will lobby for, is paid sick leave. State Sen. Joyce Woodhouse will carry a bill requiring certain employers in private employment to provide paid sick leave to full-time employees under certain circumstances.
“A person should not have to make a choice between losing their job and taking care of their child,” said Gov. Sisolak to MRNV during his campaign. “So we need to make sure that companies, the government and employers make paid sick leave available.”
At the MRNV event Saturday, Rep. Steven Horsford said “I’m 100 percent behind Make the Road Nevada on family leave and giving paid leave” adding that it was necessary to give families the ability to take time off work to attend their children’s school events and address their medical needs.
Nevada’s minimum wage is currently $8.25 — $7.25 if employers provide health coverage. MRNV is advocating for a $15 minimum wage on the state level. During a Nevada Independent forum earlier this month, Sisolak suggested raising Nevada’s wage to $12 an hour in increments, “something like $1 a year for three, four years.”
Nevada’s Horsford, along with Representatives Dina Titus and Susie Lee and Sen. Jacky Rosen have all cosponsored legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024.
On the government shutdown, Horsford added that Democrats would “continue to fight” the president on funding to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We’re going to continue to hold the line. We are not going to give one dime for any wall on the southern border,” Horsford said, eliciting large applause from the audience.
The group also said it would push to build support for a bill sponsored by Las Vegas Democratic Assemblyman Edgar Flores that would allow individuals from U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico to transfer their driver’s license to Nevada with the same ease as those looking to do so who come from other states — an issue Puerto Ricans escaping Hurricane Maria have faced in the state of Nevada.
Rep. Dina Titus also attended Saturday’s event and vowed to fight for immigration reform.
“We are not going to let (Trump) get away with building a wall or stopping immigration reform. We’ve got to protect our Dreamers. We’ve got to protect our TPS recipients. You have our commitment to do that,” Titus said.