This coming January, I will turn out the lights in my Senate office and return to Nevada as a private citizen. Bonnie and I have truly enjoyed our many years of service to the people of Nevada. Looking back on my years in elected office, I often marvel at the phenomenal changes that have taken place in Nevada during my years of public service, and I am proud of the work I have done to foster our state’s business community. Since I was appointed to the first public defenders position in Clark County, then serving in the state Assembly and Senate, and subsequently as Nevada’s Attorney General and Governor and then during two terms in Washington as a United States Senator, I have always felt that Nevada’s business interests should be of primary importance to its elected officials.
As your U.S. Senator in Washington, I have been able to weigh in on many important national issues affecting Nevada’s and the nation’s business community. I am currently the only Member of the Senate to serve on all three of the Senate’s three major committees involving fiscal and business issues, and have been in the unique position of overseeing major national legislation that directly effects businesses in Nevada. This task, however, has not always been an easy one.
As a United States Senator I have to keep focused on national issues, but that has never interfered with my advocacy for one of my most important concerns, Nevada’s business climate. Nevada was the first state to legalize gambling in 1931, and over the years it has taken a lot of criticism over its decision. Today, 43 states have some form of gambling within their borders and most have looked to Nevada as an example of how to effectively regulate this lucrative industry. I am proud of fact that Nevada has exceeded all expectations and created one of the most popular vacation destinations in the continental U.S., and I have worked very hard during my career to preserve our state’s rights and its largest industry.
When the IRS tried to tax casino employees on the meals they receive when they work, I challenged the decision and it was eventually overturned by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Recently, some of my colleagues in Congress have tried to introduce legislation that would unilaterally ban wagering on college sporting events in Nevada. Along with the rest of the Nevada Congressional delegation we have prevented, for now, this lopsided proposal which would effect only Nevada because it is the only state in which the practice is allowed. Unfortunately, this is nothing more than “feel-good” legislation and will do nothing to address the very real problem of illegal wagering on college campuses across the country.
Nevada’s second largest industry, mining, is world renowned, and as the second largest producer of gold in the world it employs over 13,000 Nevadans with an average salary of $46,000. While most people think of mining primarily as for precious metals such as gold and silver, it is an industry that goes much deeper. All Americans would be affected by diminished mining – from the roads we drive to the plastic cups we drink out of everyday, the industry touches every aspect of our lives.
As a member of the Aviation Subcommittee, I have used my position on the committee to help the tourism industry flourish in Nevada. Over the last few years, tourism in Las Vegas has made McCarran Airport one of the busiest in the country and I have worked closely with officials there to ensure they have the necessary tools to meet these new demands. I have continued to push for additional fights into and out of McCarran and helped Las Vegas’ own National Airlines get additional slots at other airports around the country in an effort to make the city more accessible to other possible markets.
It has been a pleasure to serve the Nevada business community. When I was first elected to the State Assembly, the population of the state and its major cities was comparatively small. The rapid growth rate has transformed Nevada into a state which would have been unimaginable to anyone at that time. I believe this record growth has been made possible by government-business partnerships that have proved to be beneficial to both sides. I am proud to have worked with you in that effort and I plan to continue my work on your behalf until the very end of my term. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office.