On the Issues

Medical marijuana activist Michael McAuliffe addresses Clark County Commission after federal raids.


Clark County is a vibrant, dynamic place to live. From my first visit here in 1969 when Decatur was the last road cut on the west side of town to seeing the developments of Summerlin, Seven Hills and many others after I moved here in 1998, Las Vegas has always seemed to unfold at an astounding pace. Here in 2020, our district and our state face unique challenges in the next few years. As in the last recession, Nevada will likely be one of the last states to see a return to normal operations. In times of crisis like these, we need elected leaders who are not afraid to fight against the loud and moneyed voices of the billionaire class to increase our social safety net. Most Americans don't want a hand-out, but will gratefully accept a helping hand when adversity strikes. We need to make sure that our state government in Nevada works for all of us, not just the wealthy and connected.

As a proud, progressive Democrat, I have always believed that good government is a positive force in people's lives. To that end, I believe:

Air Quality

 Much of Assembly District 20 is located near or in the flight path of McCarran Airport, as well as its feeder highways. Jet fumes and car exhaust have certainly contributed significantly to the valley's air quality issues. Having grown up in New York City, I am well aware of how a comprehensive and efficient public transportation system can reduce the need for car ownership. Linking the monorail to McCarran , better bus service throughout the valley, and light rail where appropriate can significantly help, as will the construction of the high speed rail link with southern California. 


 A graduate of the public school system, I believe it was a substantial foundation for the emergence of America as a world power in the 20th century, and that we weaken it at our future peril. Public education is for all, and should be supported for all. As such, I do not believe that public monies should be diverted for charter schools. Whether or not someone's kids went to a private school, we are all dependent on publicly educated fellow citizens in almost every action in our daily lives. We need to stop demanding that our educators 'teach the test' on a national program, support our teacher’s union fight for better wages, and empower local school boards to enact decisions for better solutions in their local districts. America is by no means monolithic and neither should its public education system be. 

Gun Safety

 My dad was a conservationist and taught me gun safety early. Sustenance hunting, marksmanship, and the right to defend one's home and family are all core to the American experience. Yet today's NRA stance on gun ownership has twisted those values to the breaking point, and has made us less safe as a community or as a nation. I believe that responsible and sane people should be able to keep a shotgun in their home for defense if they so choose. I reject however, the notion that individuals in a well-regulated militia or not need military grade firepower for the security of the state when the U.S. has a larger army than the next dozen or so countries combined. 


 Healthcare is a right!!! As a Bernie Sanders delegate in 2016 & 2020, I firmly believe in a single payer Medicare-for-All system in the U.S. Having seen firsthand public healthcare in Europe, and the peace of mind that comes with it, I am astonished that our great country has not kept pace with the rest of the industrialized world. The efficiencies of scale of a single payer system would low co-pays and deductibles, increase access to healthcare, and make prescription drugs more affordable for all of us. Although Democrats have been fighting for healthcare reforms since FDR and the New Deal, these issues have never been more important that right now in the midst of a global pandemic. No one should go bankrupt just for trying to keep themselves or their loved ones alive. I fully support Joe Biden's call to lower the enrollment age of Medicare as a good first step. 


 Without immigrants, there would be no United States. With the exception of a statistically small percentage of native Americans, we are all immigrants or descendants of immigrants. Driving across America, I am appalled when I hear Donald Trump say 'We're full, no more room for immigrants,' while at the same time one of his cabinet, Steve Mnuchin was in Europe saying that America is 'desperate for immigrants' for our labor market.
Three-quarters of our vital agricultural labor is undocumented, and this is shameful. These people are literally helping to put food on our tables. To ascribe to the American ideals of seeking a more perfect union, we must acknowledge their contributions and legitimize their ability to remain here and continue to so contribute. People are our best and brightest resource. The fact that America would welcome these people to our shores, and the synergies that developed as cultures mixed, have continued to drive our ingenuity and our economy. I support DACA, DREAMers, and those fleeing ethnic, religious or civil violence who hope for a better life here in America.

Jobs and the Economy

Before the current COVID-19 crisis unemployment was low in Clark County, but the last two months have changed the situation substantially. We need to help our workers and our small business owners get through these difficult times. We should open our public colleges to retrain workers during the substantial economic recovery time we will face over the next couple of years. Distance learning options need to be expanded to help enable the opportunities that the recovery will present.  


 Our marijuana laws are rooted in racism and propaganda. Stigmatizing people with lifelong felony records for possessing or growing a plant, ANY plant, is absurd and discriminatory. It is especially unconscionable that the federal government continues this war on its own citizenry, when the public and many states are clearly past ready to move on from this outdated relic of the past. This disparity is plainly evident in states like Nevada where we have gone in less than four years from pot being a felony to becoming an 'essential business'.

I have been a fighter for Nevada medical marijuana patient rights since 2001, shortly before the program was implemented. This involved:

* working with multiple directors of the program in its first decade 

* testifying before multiple legislative and executive bodies in the state 

* serving as Executive Director of Nevada NORML

* founding or serving on the founding board of half a dozen non-profits including the National Cannabis Industry Association, and WECAN (Wellness Education Cannabis Advocates of Nevada).

* Assisting over 1,000 patients to obtain or renew their Nevada medical marijuana program cards.

In 2010 at the Nevada state Democratic convention, I authored and fought on the floor for the nation's first major party platform plank supporting the creation of a legal medical marijuana industry.

As the new laws were enacted, I saw how they were stretched to the breaking by people rushing to get into the medical marijuana business who had no prior experience or knowledge of the industry. Relying on deep pockets and political connections, these owners did not well represent our community at large. As we inevitably move towards onsite lounges for consumption of cannabis products, I would seek to redress the inequities of the first round of canna-business openings.

Goals for cannabis industry regulations:

* An adjustment for the current cannabis licensing points based procedure incentivizing veterans, women and people of color who apply for cannabis industry licensing.

* Establishing a state program to expunge convictions for non-violent marijuana offenses.

* Ending location based disparities on cannabis cultivation.

* Establishment of a Nevada-based bank or credit union to serve the cannabis industry as a way of minimizing the risk of keeping enormous amounts of cash on hand, and to prevent potential tax evasion or money laundering.

Minimum Wage

 I would support legislation enacting a $15/hr. minimum wage in  Nevada. People should be able to have the respect that comes with self-sufficiency without having to work themselves to an early grave by taking two or three jobs. 

Roads and Transportation

 They say that roads and highways are the arteries of a city. Well, we all know what happens when arteries get clogged up, and the result is no better for a city than it is for a person. Our bus transit system is woefully inadequate for a county of two million. A serious upgrade of capabilities would reduce the need for private vehicles clogging the roads. A monorail connection on the south end of the strip to McCarran Airport makes even more sense now with Allegiant Stadium opening up nearby to act as another high traffic destination. Coordinated planning of bus, light rail or even taxi stands will help alleviate the smog caused by our heavy auto traffic once health closure restrictions are lifted. 


 Our fellow Americans who have spent a lifetime paying into Social Security deserve to have their commitment honored. We must do everything in our power to make sure that we never return to the desperate times seniors had before the program. We must do our part in Nevada to expand Medicare into Medicare-For-All to reduce or prevent medical bankruptcies and to lower the outrageous cost of many prescription drugs. We must be especially vigilant to safeguard against those who prey on vulnerable seniors. 

Women's Issues

 Throughout my adult life, I have been an unwavering supporter of women's rights. I believe that women should have reproductive control over their own bodies, get equal pay for equal work, and have access to affordable and trustworthy childcare. We, as Democrats must be constantly in guard to prevent any backsliding of availability of birth control and abortions given the conservative leanings of many federal courts today, and given Justice Kavanaugh’s comments about overturning precedent this month.