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Full Biography for Lois Capps
Lois Capps has spent her entire life helping people. Before coming to Congress Lois had successful careers in both nursing and education, and her experience in these two areas has deeply informed her work in Congress. As a nurse in Congress, Lois' background has helped her become a leader on health care. She is also a recognized leader in efforts to protect our environment, her interest stemming from being a longtime resident of Santa Barbara and seeing the aftermath of the infamous 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill.
She describes serving in Congress as "the honor of a lifetime" and feels incredibly fortunate to work on behalf of Central Coast residents.
Congresswoman Capps serves on the Committee on Energy & Commerce, where she sits on the Subcommittees on Health, Energy and Power, and Environment and the Economy. The powerful Energy & Commerce Committee has the widest range of responsibility in the House, overseeing health care, energy, environmental protection, telecommunications, trade, consumer protection and other important issues.
On the Health Subcommittee, Lois' background as a registered nurse has helped her play a key role in many of the major health policy debates in Congress, including enactment of historic health insurance reform. She authored the Nurse Reinvestment Act, which addresses our country's chronic nursing shortage. She has also passed legislation to help persons suffering from Lou Gehrig's Disease, improve CPR training in schools, and reduce domestic violence. She has helped to lead the fight to expand children's health care, enact mental health parity legislation and promote stem cell research. She has also been deeply involved in the efforts to protect Medicare, expand the use of health information technology, and improve cancer care.
Congresswoman Capps is one of the leaders of the pro-choice community in Congress and she has also been a leading voice for improving access to emergency contraception. Capps has helped bring national attention to maternal mortality both here and abroad by authoring much needed legislation on the issue. She also has authored legislation to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart disease and stroke in women, the HEART for Women Act.
Representing a district with some of this country's most beautiful coastline has made environmental protection a top priority for Lois. She is a recognized leader in the fight to protect California's coast from new offshore oil drilling. Capps has been a leader in the fights to enhance the Los Padres National Forest, and to protect consumers by holding oil companies financially responsible for cleaning up MTBE contaminated water supplies. She played a key role in the preservation of the Piedras Blancas Light Station, ensuring public access to the Channel Islands National Park, and securing federal funds to protect sensitive coastal areas from harmful development.
Global warming has also long been a major concern for Capps. She has been a strong advocate in the efforts to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, which is key to reversing climate change. Capps helped raise automobile fuel efficiency standards for the first time in 32 years and was a key supporter of House passage of the first ever comprehensive bill to address global warming. For years, she has also been a staunch supporter of increased funding for solar, wind and other clean energy technologies, and to require power companies to produce an increasing share of electricity from these renewable sources. And she is the author of legislation to help coastal communities cope with environmental changes due to global warming.
Capps serves as Co-Chair of the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition, the House Cancer Caucus, the Congressional Nursing Caucus, the Congressional School Health and Safety Caucus, and the Congressional Caucus on Infant Health and Safety. She also Co-Chairs the National Marine Sanctuary Caucus and Coastal Caucus. Lois Capps is also Vice Chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus.
Before Coming to Congress
Lois was a school nurse and health advocate in Santa Barbara County for 20 years. Over the course of her career thousands of children and families benefited from her personal care and leadership. For 10 years she was also a part-time instructor of Early Childhood Education at Santa Barbara City College. Lois founded the Santa Barbara County Teenage Pregnancy & Parenting Project and directed the Parent and Child Enrichment Center. These programs gave thousands of pregnant and parenting teens the support and encouragement they needed to stay in school, and provided them with critical child development resources to ensure their infants would grow up in healthy, loving environments.
Lois Capps graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing with honors from Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington, and later worked as a nursing instructor in Portland, Oregon. She then went on to work as the Head Nurse at Yale New Haven Hospital while she earned a Master of Arts degree in Religion from Yale University. Later she earned a Master of Arts degree in Education from University of California at Santa Barbara. She has also received honorary doctorates from Pacific Lutheran University and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary.
Lois and her husband of 37 years, the late Walter Capps, have three children and seven grandchildren. Their immediate family includes: daughter Laura, her husband Bill and their son Oscar; son Todd, his wife Julie and their son Aden; daughter Lisa, who passed away in February of 2000; Lisa's husband, Nathan and his wife Caitlin and their children David, Walter, Mary, Ellen, Sarah and Anna. Lois Capps is the daughter of a Lutheran minister and has been an active member of Grace Lutheran Church since 1964.
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