Nevada Week S6 Ep8 | Lt. Governor Anthony on tourism, economy, and elections
Averting a crisis... Metro Police work to get ahead of a so-called zombie drug, making its way to the West Coast. Plus... (Stavros Anthony) I have a lot of concerns about our election system, a lot. (Amber Renee Dixon) A discussion with Nevada's lieutenant governor about election integrity, tourism, small business growth, and more...
That's this week on Nevada Week. ♪♪♪ Support for Nevada Week is provided by Senator William H. Hernstadt. (Catherine Cortez Masto) Xylazine is just one of many ways that these large-scale criminal organizations are going to try to profit off of Americans here, people in the United States, for illicit purposes for drugs. And if we don't stay together, if we don't stand together at a federal, state, and local level working to address this to keep our community safe, we're going to have one too many that we're going to lose in our communities. One is way too many already. -Welcome to Nevada Week. I'm Amber Renee Dixon.
And that was U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto at a joint press conference with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Also known as "the zombie drug" or "tranq," xylazine is a tranquilizer for large animals, which Metro Deputy Chief Nicolas Farese says is especially deadly when mixed with fentanyl and other drugs. Deputy Chief Farese, what makes xylazine so dangerous? (Nicolas Farese) A lot of things. I mean, first and foremost, we're seeing firsthand that it's being cut with fentanyl.
And we know how deadly fentanyl is. And then when you add that compound to the mix with fentanyl and these illegal prescriptions, it's not like a normal opioid. So Narcan, for example, has no effect on it. So we're already seeing large amounts of deaths throughout the country with the fentanyl crisis. Now, when you compound this additive being added, it just takes something that's already dangerous and deadly and makes it a lot more dangerous and deadly. -Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called xylazine a, quote, skin-rotting zombie drug.
What is he talking about? -First off, this isn't intended to be used on humans. I mean, this drug has a use in the veterinary world as an animal tranquilizer, but it was never intended to be ingested by humans and especially not in a way recreationally for euphoric high. I mean, that's usually done under the control-- think of when you go to the doctor, you have an anesthesiologist when you're getting an actual medical treatment. -And in what other ways does xylazine impact someone's health? -It can cause death. But obviously it depends how they ingest it. I mean, we're typically seeing it in powder form, and then it's being pressed into pills.
But it could also be injected intravenously. And like you see with methamphetamine and heroin and other drugs that when you inject them intravenously, it can cause, you know, skin problems, irritation, bacteria, and infections. -How prevalent is xylazine in Southern Nevada? -So luckily, it's not super prevalent. However, we can't wait for a crisis to talk about a crisis. And in 2020, I would say we saw about 2% of our fentanyl seizures had traces of xylazine in it, but by 2022, it went up to 7%.
And that's just here in Southern Nevada. You know, we work with our partners at the federal government, specifically the Drug Enforcement Agency, and they're seeing this largely on the East Coast. And it's starting to move to the West Coast. So, you know, that's why it was so important that Senator Cortez Masto partnered with us, and she's trying to make legislation and why we did that press conference the other day.
We need to get the word out to the community because I don't want to wait. One death is too many deaths. -Is it illegal for humans to use xylazine? -That's why this legislation is so important. Right now, it's not illegal to possess it.
I mean, it's readily available on the internet, you know, and the criminals that are capitalizing in the illicit drug market know this as well. And it's very cheap to purchase. So it's, from a drug dealer standpoint, it's economical for them to use that to cut it with fentanyl into illegal pharmaceuticals that they sell on the black market and to our community. -When I looked online, it seems you have to either have a prescription or a veterinarian's license to buy it. Is that right? -To purchase it legally, yes, as a veterinarian. But, you know, it's-- if you look on the internet long enough, you can find other ways.
I mean, there's the dark web, the black web, and it's available. -What tools do you need to combat xylazine? -We need it to be labeled as a controlled substance so that we could charge people when they're in possession of it and, more importantly, go after the drug dealers. And that's where we've really seen the most impact in our quest to combat fentanyl with our Overdose Response Team is doing those investigations and, you know, going after the drug dealers that are selling these drugs to people that, quite frankly, they don't know what they're taking. A very, very little small amount of fentanyl, a trace amount in a pill, could be enough to be deadly. And it's not like these pills are being made by pharmacists in a controlled environment.
They're being made in areas with no control system, and you don't know what you're buying, which is why it's important for people to only purchase prescription pills from a licensed pharmacist and having a legitimate prescription from a prescribing doctor. -And that Overdose Response Team, what impact has it had? -You know, it's hard to measure your impacts, but I would venture to say if somebody lost a loved one. And unfortunately with the the amount of deaths that we've seen in our community over the years just through the fentanyl crisis, maybe being able to bring some closure and hold somebody accountable for the death of a loved one that's no longer here, I would say that that's the biggest impact on what drives those detectives and motivates them to do the job they do. -And finally, at that press conference you held with Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, you said that overdosing is 100% preventable. How so? -First off, if you have an addiction, there's help out there. And that's why we tell people, you know, there's resources if you go to lvmpd.com and you
click on our tab for resources, there's a whole plethora of resources out there that can help people with addiction. And secondly, don't buy illegal drugs, specifically prescription drugs. You go to a doctor, you get a prescription, you go to your legitimate pharmacist, you're going to be safe, you're going to be okay.
But when you're buying stuff off the street and you don't know what you're buying and who you're buying it from, that's 100% preventable. -Right now in Congress, Senator Cortez Masto has two pieces of legislation cracking down on xylazine and fentanyl. If passed, she says the Combating Illicit Xylazine Act would make the illicit use of xylazine a Schedule III controlled drug, while the FEND OFF Fentanyl Act would direct the Treasury Department to target, sanction, and block the financial assets of transnational drug trafficking organizations. On to our main story now. This past legislative session in Nevada, Lieutenant Governor Stavos Anthony succeeded in passing a bill to support small businesses. It's one of several topics we covered with Nevada's second in command.
Lieutenant Governor, thank you for joining Nevada Week. -Great to be here. Thanks for having me. -You are coming off a trip to Iowa where there was an annual meeting of lieutenant governors from across the country that you got to meet with. I wonder when you discussed with them various issues about their state, what stood out to you about Nevada? -Yeah, you know, that's the great thing about being lieutenant governor. I've been to actually two or three trips with my fellow lieutenant governors all over the country. And it's interesting, you know, that when a lot of them run as a team, a governor/lieutenant governor, when they run for election and run as a team-- some don't, like here in Nevada.
Some of them have similar responsibilities, like I do. Some have completely different responsibilities. In Wyoming, the Secretary of State is kind of the second in command. So it's all over the place, but it's great.
I mean, Louisiana Lieutenant Governor is involved in a lot of tourism issues, just like I am. So it's great to visit with him and exchange ideas on how we can, you know, promote tourism and increase the tourism industry here in the state of Nevada. So I enjoy being with them, getting to make some good friends all over the country.
-And you're enjoying this role. -This is probably one of the best jobs I've ever had. I mean, it's-- I get to be involved in tourism, which I have a background in economic development which I have a background in supporting small businesses, transportation. So the things I'm doing as lieutenant governor today, I've been doing probably in some fashion for the last 40 years.
So I believe I know what I'm doing. And it's just great doing things that I enjoy doing and making life better for the residents of the state of Nevada. -And doing things that you have experience in. -Yes.
-So while you were in Iowa, you, according to your Twitter, got to talk to companies about economic opportunities in Nevada. What is your pitch to them? -You know, my pitch is Nevada is a great state. We have no income tax. Our taxes are fairly low. Our regulations are fairly low. We have an agency called GOED, the Governor's Office of Economic Development.
If you're a brand new company coming to Nevada or you're expanding, you can apply for tax abatements. Some companies get $250 million in tax abatements. Some of them get $100,000.
And for a small company, that's quite a bit of money. And they're bringing 50, 80, 100 new employees to the state of Nevada and really helping our economic base. I talked to them about, you know, the great places to live here in Nevada. Not only in Las Vegas, but up in Reno and some of our rural areas are just great places to live. The weather's great. We don't really have any natural disasters.
We had Hurricane Hillary last week, but it didn't turn out to be as bad as we thought it was going to be. But it's just a great state and a great environment to open up a business here in Nevada. And that's what I talked to him. And they're taking a look at our state. -How do you think Nevada compares to other states in terms of tax abatements? -We're actually pretty good. There's a lot of states that offer tax abatements, but we're definitely in the competitive edge when it comes to being able to put a package together for companies to come here.
One of the things that we really need to work harder on is workforce development. So we need to really work on the industries that are coming here and making sure that we have, you know, people that are-- have received an education or training in that particular area, like areas involving semiconductors, mechanical engineering, things like that. So we need to really beef up and be a little bit more robust when it comes to our workforce development. But we're doing that.
The Governor has that as his top priority. It's my top priority working with our, our trades and our educational system to train up our people so they can work for these companies when they come here. -When you talk to these companies, what do you tell them about water use and that if they do come here, their water use will likely be scrutinized? -Well, you know, water is always going to be an issue here in Las Vegas because we live in the desert. But we have-- you know, there's a couple of things to keep in mind there. 99% of the water that goes down the drain anywhere in Las Vegas ends up going back to Lake Mead.
It's cleaned and goes back to Lake Mead. So we don't waste any water when it comes to going down our drainage system. And we've done a great job capturing water, that when it rains here, capturing that water, putting it into our flood system and our flood canal system, and going back to Lake Mead. We spent billions of dollars setting up a system where if that water comes down the mountain, it goes right back to Lake Mead.
And our conservation efforts are, I would say, is probably the best in the country. We do a great job conserving water. We don't really waste a lot of water. You look at the housing that's going up today.
I mean, we don't put in grass much anymore. It's rocks. It's astroturf. People are very conscientious about making sure that water isn't wasted.
So we have to start with that. And companies know when they come here, they're going to be part of our community when it comes to making sure that we don't waste water. So we're okay with water when it comes to Las Vegas, because we've done a great job making sure we don't waste it.
And obviously, when you look at Lake Mead, you hate to see that big ring around the lake, but we're coming up with some good compacts with other states to make sure that we have water way into the future. -Back here at home, helping small businesses is a priority of yours. You were able to get SB 24 signed into law this past session. What does it do? -So SB 24 basically solidified an agency in the lieutenant governor's office. It's called the Office of Small Business Advocacy. We have three people that run that office.
It's run out of the lieutenant governor's office. And it basically does two things. So for example, you want to open up a business and you have a great idea, you have a great product, you know you can succeed, but you're sitting there going, Well, do I get a city license or a county license, or do I go to the state? What are the regulations? Do I have to get something from the Health District? And you're kind of-- your hair's on fire because you don't know what to do, where to get it. You don't want to violate any laws or regulations. So you would call our office, Office of Small Business Advocacy, and say, I'm going to open up a business. Can you help me navigate the licensing and regulation process? And we'll do that for you.
We'll do that in a couple of days for you so you can get up to speed and open up your business instead of you trying to navigate all that and taking weeks and maybe a month trying to figure that out. We'll get you open as soon as possible. So that's, that's really our number one priority is getting businesses through the navigation process. -Is that really the biggest issue that they're facing right now? -Yes. They don't know what the taxes they have to pay. They don't know-- if they don't get their license in time, they can get penalties attached to it, which can be expensive.
So we want to make sure that all that stuff is, we'll handle it for you. So if you want to open up a business, you come and talk to me, and we'll get you set up. And the second part of that is, while we're doing that, we're going to find regulations that really aren't necessary.
We're going to find licensing fees that are really onerous. They're too much. We're going to find duplicate licensing fees where you go to the State and you have to get one from the City. We're going to learn why you have to get one from the City? Why not just get one license. So while we're helping you out, we're locating issues that are really impeding businesses in the state of Nevada.
We want to get rid of those whether it's an executive order from the governor, whether it's going back to the legislature in two years and talking to legislators saying, you know, here's three examples of things that we're doing today that are not necessary that are really causing problems for businesses. We need to pass a law to get rid of them. So that's the second thing we do. And then the third thing is we're just out there talking to businesses and finding out how we can help them in any other issues.
So we're-- our office is very much pro small-- and we're talking about small businesses. We're not talking about huge businesses. We're talking about, you know, two or three people or one person that has decided they want the American dream in opening up their own business. We're going to help do that. -Back to Iowa. You were able to visit the Iowa State Fair when you were there.
And in addition to taking a picture with the big cow made of butter-- -Yes. It was actually cow butter. And I didn't take a picture, but Kurt Warner the quarterback, there was a butter sculpture of him. -Wow! -And then there was another one I can't remember. But that was-- and the funny thing is that butter has been recycled for 20 years.
So they sculpture it and then they melt it, put it in the fridge and use it next year. You're not going to put that on your toast anytime in the near future. -Gross! But they're using the same butter. Nobody's eating it. Okay. In addition to doing that and taking a picture with that cow, you took a picture with former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.
Were you able to listen to any of the Republican candidates for President while there? -You know, a lot of them had already left. So we happened to be wandering around, and Governor Hutchinson was there. He was the only candidate for President that I saw there, so I took a picture with him. We chatted for a little bit. I let him know some things going on in Nevada, but he was the only one that I ran across.
There really weren't any other, others at the Iowa State Fair. But Iowa State Fair is absolutely phenomenal. The number of people that were there was unbelievable. They had alligator sandwiches and rattlesnake on a stick. -Do you think something like that would work in Las Vegas? -I'm going to take a look at the Nevada State Fair, see how we're doing there a little bit more closely. And if anything I can bring, any ideas from the Iowa State Fair that I can bring to the Nevada State Fair, absolutely I'm going to do that.
Because it was-- people were just having a great time. It was just a lot of fun. People just kind of forgot about their daily chores, and they were just there to ride the rides and eat different food, and-- -But some were there to listen to the candidates. -Yes, absolutely.
-Did you watch the debate? -I did. -Okay. Anybody stand out to you? -You know, I'm-- the ones that were there, I really like Ron DeSantis.
I mean, he's proven himself as a, as an outstanding governor running the state of Florida. He's just proven himself with the things that he's done with his conservative values and how he's really changed Florida for the better. So he, he's probably my favorite at this point. -Have you decided on endorsing him? -Not yet. I'm not-- I'm going to-- I've been asked by quite a few people for endorsements, but I'm gonna wait. It's a little too early for that.
So we'll wait and see. There's a lot of offices where not everybody has jumped in yet. So we'll wait and see what happens. But I'll be doing some endorsements in the future. -Okay. And what are your thoughts on the Nevada Republican party holding a caucus just two days after the primary is going to be held and, in addition, honoring those results over the primary? -You know, the-- I think the key issue is it's causing a lot of confusion among the people in Nevada.
Obviously, the Republicans, they're looking at this, and they're not sure, Do I participate in the caucus? Do I participate in the primary? Do I participate in both of them? You know, Do I vote in the primary? Or do I just not vote in the primary and see what the caucus does? It's gonna create a lot of confusion. We need to fix that before we actually do this. So the state Republican Party is in the middle of that, and I'll be talking to folks there, but I just think it's really-- to me, it's easier just to hold a primary. Let Republicans show up and vote and see where the votes come out. There are some benefits to having a caucus, but it's just caucuses are a little bit more complicated. There are a lot more meetings involved.
I like primary vote, just people just show up and vote. So hopefully, we'll work all that stuff out. But it's really causing a little consternation at this point. -And what are your current concerns, if any, with election integrity, because you have had them in the past, as recent as 2020 when you ran for Clark County Commission.
-I have a lot of concerns about our election system, a lot. To me, the best system for having an election is you have election day, maybe a week of early voting. You show up to vote, you show your ID, we determine who you are, you're registered in advance, you vote, and it's done. Your vote is cast, and it's over with. -So you wouldn't like same-day registration anymore? -No. I-- you know, and when it comes to mail-in
ballots, it should only be for people that cannot make the early voting or Election Day that request a mail-in ballot. So if it was up to me, I would do away with universal mail-in ballots. I would do away with same-day registration. I would do away with ballot harvesting, which is interesting. It used to be a felony to ballot harvest in Nevada four years ago.
And all of a sudden, it's legal, and it's being done. So I would do away with all that. I would not mail out ballots to everybody because even Jimmy Carter, when he was President, he had a Blue Ribbon Committee that looked at election integrity.
And he said the best way to cheat and have fraud in an election is all mail-in ballots and ballot harvesting. He identified those two specifically, and he was a Democrat President. So I think all that is, you know-- I can't tell you how much fraud and cheating there is, because really never, we don't investigate it.
But I guarantee you there's more in that system than in the system I just mentioned to you. Absolutely. So I'm very concerned about our election, our election system here in Nevada. -And the Secretary of State, we recently had him on. On the topic of voter ID, showing an ID when you're voting, he argues there is-- that's already baked into the process; when you register, you have to show a proof of identification. But you don't think that's enough? -No. Absolutely not.
I think there's nothing wrong with showing up at the voting place, showing your ID, checking it one more time, because we only want the person that's registered to vote voting. So why not show another piece of ID? I just don't see that as hard. I went-- I've been to two banks today, and I had to show them my ID. It wasn't-- it's not that big a deal. But I think it sends a signal to people in Nevada that we are, that we're really focused on making sure that our election integrity is number one. And when we have to show ID, people understand why that is important.
So I would still recommend that. Absolutely. -And we are getting close to the end of this interview, running out of time. But I want to talk about tourism because as lieutenant governor, you are the Chair of the Nevada Commission on Tourism.
How does Nevada need help in this area? I wouldn't think Nevada does. -So if you look at tourism here in Nevada, Las Vegas has a very robust tourism support system with the Convention Authority, and I'm part of that. I'm part of making sure Las Vegas has a good support system. Reno-Sparks has a good tourism support system, and I'm part of helping that also. But we have some some great rural tourist destinations in Nevada, and they're the ones that I primarily focus on. I mean, I'm trying to get people to go to Ely, Elko, Winnemucca, Great Basin National Park, up in Fallon, the rest of the places in our state.
We have some beautiful and outdoor recreation in the state of Nevada, and that's primarily what I focus on is rural destination tourism support. I'm here to primarily support the rural areas. I support Las Vegas and Reno-Sparks, but it's the rural areas that need as much support as they possibly can. -I saw you tweet about a rib cook off in Sparks that's coming up, as an example.
Is there an overlooked area that you really wish, not just tourists, but Nevadans would go and check out? -So if you go to the Travel Nevada website, there's 10 road trips in the state of Nevada that we've identified. I'll be doing all 10 of those. So they're the ones that I will be doing coming up, I've already had scheduled, is the Cowboy Corridor from Carson City to Reno to Lovelock to Winnemucca to Elko and back again. And there's another one, the Great Basin trip, which starts in Las Vegas, goes to Caliente, Pioche, Panaca, up to Ely, Great Basin National Park.
We're going to-- we're going to visit the caves. We're going to do Dark Skies. We're going to see the eclipse up there.
So keep an eye on Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook, and I'll be letting you know all these great tourist destinations. I'd like you to do a couple of these road trips. You would have a great time seeing the rest of Nevada. -I would love to. You are a traveling man. We are lucky to have you in. And thank you so much for your time, Lieutenant Governor.
-Great to be here. -As always, for any of the resources discussed on this show, go to our website, vegaspbs.org/nevadaweek. And I'll see you next week on Nevada Week. ♪♪♪