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May 21, 2024

NHCSL President Rep. Angela Romero Joined Congressional Latino Elected Officials for the First National Latino Advocacy Summit at the Department of Commerce

From left to right: Assistant Secretary Susie Feliz, Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY), Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR), Rep. Darren Soto (FL), and NHCSL President Rep. Angela Romero (UT). Credit: Hispanic Access Foundation.

Watch the full panel here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Utah House Democratic Leader Rep. Angela Romero (UT), President of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL), joined Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY), NHCSL alumnus Rep. Darren Soto (FL), and Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR) for a bipartisan panel of elected officials, moderated by Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Susie Feliz.

The panelists discussed the experiences, challenges, and opportunities of serving their constituencies as Latino leaders. They highlighted being the first in their communities and families to enter public service and explored opportunities for collaboration with the federal government at local and state levels.

During the panel, Rep. Romero emphasized the diversity within Latino communities and shared her experience growing up in Tooele, where she was neither part of the predominant ethnic group nor predominant religious group.

“Being the first in a lot of ways and being an outsider gives you a different perspective because you’re never really fully on the inside. I was one of the first Latinos from my community to attend the University of Utah. I’m happy to say I’m also the first Latina, Chicana, to lead my Caucus, and my colleague, who I went to college with, Sen. Luz Escamilla, is the first immigrant woman and first Latina to lead the Senate,” explained Rep. Romero.

“Furthermore, the consequences of going against the FDA’s scientific judgment and authority and setting the precedent of challenging the approval process of medications, devices, procedures, and much more, will wreak havoc on our country’s healthcare system, stifle innovation, and have serious negative economic and public health consequences.

“I was lucky to find people within my community to mentor me and guide me through my ups and downs to be the person that I am today.”

She further explained how “organizations such as NHCSL, of which Rep. Darren Soto is a former member, really cultivates us and reminds us that we do have community, because sometimes when you’re in the minority when it comes to ethnicity and race you feel alone, but when you join [NHCSL] you learn you're not alone and you have the support of your colleagues from across the country and you can influence policy.”

Rep. Romero expressed her gratitude to the White House, particularly the office of Vice-President Harris, for their engagement with state and local officials in discussing how to better invest in community infrastructure and address inflation.

In her remarks, Rep. Romero highlighted the significant impact of federal funds on her and Sen. Escamilla’s initiatives, which, in collaboration with the mayors of Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City, supported frontline workers during the pandemic. This support led to the creation of a community health worker program to ensure the safety and protection of community members and was later certified during the 2022 Legislative Session.

Rep. Romero stressed the importance of being innovative as a legislator, citing S.B. 217 Children’s Health Coverage Amendments, sponsored by Sen. Escamilla. She pointed out the critical role of selecting the House sponsor for the bill in achieving its successful passage. This bill successfully passed the Utah Legislature, ensuring healthcare insurance access for children from mixed-status families.

The Summit also included opening remarks from Secretary Gina Raimondo —who highlighted the importance of supporting Hispanic-owned businesses— Deputy Secretary Don Graves, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (CA), and Senior Advisor to the President of the United States Tom Perez.

The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) is the premier national association of Hispanic state legislators working to design and implement policies and procedures that will improve the quality of life for Hispanics throughout the country. NHCSL was founded in 1989 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with the mission to be the most effective voice for the more than 450 Hispanic legislators. For more information visit www.nhcsl.org.