[OPINION] Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month

Nevada’s Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities make up an essential part of our state’s economy and our culture. As we celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, we’re recognizing the rich heritages and honoring the contributions of Nevada’s AAPI communities.

The district where I live in Las Vegas has the largest AAPI population in the whole state of Nevada, and last year we elected our district’s first AAPI state Assembly member to represent us in Carson City, Duy Nguyen. AAPI communities throughout Nevada have expanded so much since I was growing up in Las Vegas, and it’s important for AAPI Nevadans to be represented by people who actually reflect what the community looks like. That’s partially why I was excited to join my AAPI colleagues in calling for and supporting the nomination of Julie Su to be the next Secretary of Labor and the first AAPI Cabinet Secretary in the Biden Administration. I know she’ll do an excellent job for Nevada’s working families.

In the Senate, I’ve spoken with AAPI community members in every corner of our state; attended Kamayans, Night Markets, and other local events celebrating AAPI heritage; and worked with Nevada’s AAPI leaders to ensure their communities have access to the resources they need.

Today, there are close to 22,000 Asian-owned businesses in Nevada across all industries, and that number continues to climb higher. I’m doing what I can to support small business owners throughout our state, making it easier to start a business, encouraging entrepreneurship, and protecting small businesses in our communities. Earlier this year, I introduced legislation to provide law enforcement with resources to crack down on organized retail crimes like flash mob robberies and cargo theft. Bills like this will help ensure AAPI small business owners can continue their operations safely and more easily. Just a few weeks ago, I met with members of the Asian Chamber of Commerce and was proud to receive an award from them for my support of the AAPI small business community.

On one of my recent trips home to Nevada, I toured the Healthy Asians & Pacific Islanders (HAPI) Medical Center, which is working to help uninsured and underinsured AAPI Nevadans get access to quality, affordable health care. Lowering prescription drug costs for all Nevada families has been a top priority of mine, and I’m meeting with organizations like HAPI to find the best solutions for our state’s AAPI communities. Last year, we took a big step in that direction when I passed sweeping legislation to cap the out-of-pocket cost of insulin at $35 per month for seniors and to guarantee free vaccines for people on Medicare. But I’m not done bringing those costs down – I introduced legislation this year to punish drug companies for raising prescription drug prices faster than the rate of inflation increases. That’s going to help a lot of Nevada families.

We have more work to do to support Nevada’s small businesses, lower costs, and protect our families, and I’m working with our state’s AAPI communities to ensure I’m doing all I can to prioritize their needs. So this AAPI Heritage Month, I’m celebrating not only the contributions of AAPI Nevadans to our state, but also the ways we’ve worked together to deliver for our AAPI communities. I look forward to continuing to listen to and learn from AAPI community members in Nevada, and I will continue working with the entire community to make Nevada a better state to live in.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Born and raised in Las Vegas, Catherine Cortez Masto has spent her career fighting for Nevada’s working families. She served two terms as Attorney General of Nevada and in November 2016, she made history by becoming the first woman from Nevada and the first Latina ever elected to the United States Senate.


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