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Governor candidate Laxalt unveils veteran policy priorities, fields questions on marijuana, Medicaid

Michelle Rindels
Michelle Rindels
Luz Gray
Luz Gray
Election 2018Marijuana
Adam Laxalt, Republican candidate for Nevada governor, during a campaign event at the Veterans House in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jan 24, 2018. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who’s running for governor, unveiled a plan Wednesday that he says will build on Gov. Brian Sandoval’s successes helping veterans and that will make Nevada the most “veteran-empowering state” in the country.

He also answered questions from a handful of reporters on topics including a proposed ballot measure banning sanctuary cities, his stance on fixing the lack of banking in the marijuana industry, the Trump administration’s opioid emergency declaration and his position on work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

Laxalt’s plan includes setting up a single point of contact for veterans resources in the state, reestablishing the Veterans Suicide Prevention Task Force, making it a priority to hire veterans in state government and convening a regular Veterans Summit so members of the veteran-serving community can exchange ideas. Laxalt served in the Navy as a Judge Advocate General.

“We are in a unique time when people want to support veterans. Those who served in Vietnam did not get that experience and unfortunately, they’re late coming but I think our country is finally honoring their service. People want to help veterans,” Laxalt told supporters in an event held at the Veterans Village in downtown Las Vegas. “But people that haven’t served need to understand that a lot more needs to be done. And whatever they think the sacrifice is, it’s actually a lot more. I have three little kids — an infant and two little baby girls. If I was deploying now … I would’ve missed the birth of my child. And that is tough.”

He also said he was forming Veterans for Laxalt, a coalition of campaign supporters who have served in the military. Among the members: former U.S.S. Cole Commander Kirk Lippold; Lt. General Buck Bedard, USMC; wounded Marine veteran Dylan Gray; and retired Army Colonel George Del Carlo.

Adam Laxalt, Republican candidate for Nevada governor, talks to Vietnam veteran Glenn Noll during a campaign event at the Veterans House in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jan 24, 2018. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Supporter Mike Colian, who attended the event, said he thinks Laxalt will be an even stronger ally for veterans than Gov. Brian Sandoval, whose work has included spearheading the ongoing construction of a veterans nursing home in Northern Nevada and, along with Laxalt, approving a memorial for fallen soldiers that will be built near the capitol building in Carson City.

“Laxalt is a veteran himself and he started a legal program for veterans that’s really important,” said Colian, referring to Laxalt’s pro bono legal aid initiative, the Office of Military Legal Assistance. “Gov. Sandoval, I mean, he respects veterans, but I don’t think he’s pushed enough issues for veterans as governor.”

After the event, Laxalt fielded media questions in a series of brief interviews:

  • Asked whether he would consider implementing work requirements for Medicaid recipients if elected governor, as Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has done, Laxalt said, “I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet. It’s a few weeks old, and something changes in Washington about every other day, so I’ll be looking at that in the coming weeks and months ahead."
  • Asked if he will urge the Trump Administration to provide funding to battle the opioid crisis — something that hasn’t yet happened even though President Donald Trump declared opioids a public health emergency in October — Laxalt said, “I’m just focusing on what we’ve done for opioids. As you may know, we launched an opioid program just a few months ago. Proud of that work we plan on doing for the state, and in fact we’re standing up an opioid coalition across the state here in March that’s going to be important for law enforcement and medical communities to bring them together so we can break down the walls of those two as it relates to opioid addiction. That’s what I’m focused on now. I don’t know where the status is of anything national regarding the opioids.”
  • Asked whether he supported a proposed ballot question banning sanctuary cities in Nevada, Laxalt said, “I think I’m not going to talk about that as long as that’s going to be in my office.” He added that “I’m opposed to sanctuary cities. I think sanctuary cities, depending on the definition, if we’re talking about felons that have been arrested, then felons should not be put back in our community. We should be working with law enforcement to keep our communities safe.”
  • He also addressed the fact that he did not join other attorneys general in states with recreational marijuana in signing a letter to Congress requesting a banking fix. According to journalist Steve Sebelius, Laxalt “says signing a letter to ask the feds to relax banking regs for marijuana businesses is ‘premature.’”

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