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Dina Titus slams Energy Department in Nevada Legislature speech

CARSON CITY — U.S. Rep. Dina Titus slapped Trump administration moves on plutonium shipments and nuclear waste storage in Nevada, congratulated state lawmakers on gun control efforts and criticized sheriffs who’ve said they won’t enforce them in remarks to the Legislature on Tuesday.

The five-term House Democrat and former state senator, in a 20-minute address to a joint session of the Senate and Assembly, also touched on marijuana banking laws, state criminal justice reform, health care initiatives and the importance of an accurate count in the 2020 census. But she returned frequently to policy and political disagreements with the administration on multiple fronts.

“Let me be perfectly clear: We’re not going to stand idly by and let the Trump administration treat Nevada as a dumping ground for the nation’s nuclear waste,” she said, referring to a White House plan to restart efforts to store nuclear waste at the Yucca Mountain site northwest of Las Vegas.

Titus also called out the Department of Energy’s shipment of plutonium into the state last fall, done under the cover of secrecy to protect the sensitive shipment but amid a court fight to block the move and without the apparent knowledge of state officials.

“I will say it again, and I have said it for a long time: You cannot trust the DOE when it comes to nuclear issues,” she said.

Beginning her remarks Tuesday, she called out the body’s history-making status as the first state Legislature to have a female majority. “This is the first time I have looked out at this chamber and seen mostly women looking back at me,” she said, to rousing applause. She also drew applause from the mostly Democratic body when she highlighted pending or approved gun control legislation, including last month’s passage of background checks for private gun sales.

And Titus sought to shame rural sheriffs who have said they will not enforce the law for “recklessly gambling with the lives of Nevadans.” “I just don’t think that the sheriff who’s supposed to uphold the law should take a position saying we’re going to ignore a law that the state Legislature has passed,” she said later in a meeting with reporters.

Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, took issue with her characterization.

“The sheriffs are the highest ranking law enforcement in the county, and it’s up to them to determine how to spend their limited resources,” he said. “My sheriffs have basically said it’s unenforceable and they don’t have the resources to try.”

He also refuted Titus’s criticism on the federal plutonium shipment, saying, as Energy Department officials have maintained, that state officials chose not to participate in discussions about the shipment with DOE.

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