Congresswoman Lois Capps has been a resident of Santa Barbara, California since 1964 and represents the state’s beautiful Central Coast, which includes the entirety of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, and a portion of Ventura County. She was sworn in as a Member of the 105th Congress on March 17, 1998, succeeding her late husband, former University of California, Santa Barbara professor, Congressman Walter H. Capps.
Rep. Capps is committed to helping people improve their daily lives through better schools, quality health care, and a cleaner environment.
Rep. Capps’ extensive healthcare background informs her work in Congress. She is a respected and effective leader in Congress, especially on issues related to public health. She has successfully spearheaded and passed legislation specifically to: address the national nursing shortage, detect and prevent domestic violence against women, curb underage drinking, improve mental health services, provide emergency defibrillators to local communities, improve research on pediatric rare diseases, support greater diversity in clinical trials for more effective treatments, bring CPR instruction to schools, identify and link newborns with hearing loss to services, strengthen Medicare coverage for patients suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, expand TRICARE health coverage for military mothers, and improve rental car safety to protect consumers.
Rep. Capps has also been at the forefront of efforts to protect the environment and promote clean energy and green technology. She has led efforts to prevent new oil and gas drilling off our coast and on the public’s lands, strengthen oil pipeline safety and spill response, protect consumers from shouldering the financial burden of cleaning up water pollution in their water supplies, and conserve wildlife and rare species native to the Central Coast. She has also authored laws to establish a national system for ocean monitoring, expand conservation efforts for our public lands and strengthen labeling standards for organic foods.
A complete list of her legislative accomplishments can be found here.
Rep. Capps serves on the powerful Committee on Energy and Commerce where she sits on the Health, Energy & Power, and Environment & the Economy subcommittees. From these posts, Rep. Capps focuses on Medicare reform, the nursing shortage, cancer care and research, mental health, energy policy, and the protection of our air and water.
She also serves on the Natural Resources Committee where she sits on the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Subcommittee on Federal Lands. Her work on this committee is focused on energy production, fisheries and wildlife, public lands, oceans, and Native Americans.
Rep. Capps is a member of and has served as co-chair of numerous Congressional caucuses, including the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition, the House Cancer Caucus, the House Lung Cancer Caucus, the Congressional School Health and Safety Caucus, National Marine Sanctuary Caucus, and the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. She is founder and co-chair of the House Nursing Caucus and was an original member and remains honorary Vice-Chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus.
During her 20-year tenure as a nurse and public health advocate for the Santa Barbara School District, thousands of Santa Barbara’s children and families benefited from Rep. Capps’ personal care and leadership. Rep. Capps founded and served as the director of Santa Barbara County’s Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting Project and the Parent and Child Enrichment Center. There she gave countless young parents the support and encouragement to stay in school while providing them with critical child development skills to ensure their children grow up in healthy, loving environments. Rep. Capps also taught for 10 years as a part-time instructor of Early Childhood Education at Santa Barbara City College.
Rep. Capps graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington with a B.S. in Nursing with honors and worked as a nursing instructor in Portland, Oregon. Rep. Capps also earned an M.A. in Religion from Yale University while working as Head Nurse at Yale New Haven Hospital. She also earned an M.A. in Education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has received honorary doctorates from Pacific Lutheran University and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. Rep. Capps has been an active member of Grace Lutheran Church in Santa Barbara, CA since 1964. Her father was a Lutheran minister and she was born and raised in Ladysmith, Wisconsin.
Rep. Capps was married to Walter Capps for 37 years and together they raised their three children in Santa Barbara, California. Her immediate family includes: daughter Laura, her husband Bill, their son Oscar; son Todd, and his son Aden; daughter Lisa, who passed away February of 2000; Lisa's husband, Nathan, their sons David and Walter, and Nathan’s wife Caitlin, and their children Mary, Ellen, Sarah and Anna.