Analysis: Which legislators had the most (and fewest) bills passed in the 2021 session?

Democrats controlled both houses of the Legislature during the 2021 session, and hundreds of high-profile Democratic measures sailed through the Assembly and Senate while a vast majority of Republican-backed measures failed to make much headway in the legislative process.

Out of 605 bills introduced and sponsored by a lawmaker this session, Democratic legislators had 63 percent of their bills and resolutions pass out of the Legislature, compared to just 18 percent for Republicans. Those in the majority party were able to pass priority measures, including bills establishing the “Right to Return,” a public health insurance option and permanent expanded mail voting, while many priorities for Republicans, such as a voter ID law, were killed without so much as a hearing.

Which lawmakers had the most success passing their bills? Which lawmakers were least successful? How did Assembly members fare compared to senators?

The Nevada Independent analyzed all bills and resolutions that were both introduced and primarily sponsored by a lawmaker and examined which of those bills passed out of the Legislature and which ones died. Of those 605 bills, 267 (44 percent) were approved by members of the Assembly and Senate, while the remaining 338 (56 percent) were left in the graveyard of the legislative session.

Those 605 measures make up only a portion of the 1,035 bills and resolutions introduced during the session — others were sponsored by committees, constitutional officers such as the secretary of state or governor, or helped implement the state budget. The 2021 session also saw fewer measures introduced than previous sessions, as the 2019 and 2017 sessions each saw closer to 1,200 bills and resolutions introduced.

State law limits the number of bills that can be introduced by any individual lawmaker — incumbent senators and Assembly members can request 20 and 10 bill draft requests, respectively, while newly-elected legislators are limited to six bills in the Assembly and 12 in the Senate. Legislative leadership for both the majority and minority parties are also allowed to introduce additional bills beyond the normal limits.

The analysis revealed that Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui (D-Las Vegas) and Sen. Chris Brooks (D-Las Vegas) led their caucuses with the highest rate of bill passage, while Assembly members Jill Tolles (R-Reno) and P.K. O'Neill (R-Carson City) were the only Republicans who had more than half of their bills passed out of the Legislature. Eight Republican legislators ended the session with zero bills passed.

A previous analysis of votes during the 2021 session revealed that most bills passed with bipartisan support, as more than half of all votes included no opposition. But that trend was largely driven by Democrats in the majority passing their priorities while not advancing nearly as many Republican bills, with 175 more Democrat-backed measures passing out of the Legislature than measures introduced by Republicans.

The guide below explores the results of our analysis, examining the successes and failures of both parties and of individual lawmakers this session.

We’ve double-checked our work to make sure we’ve counted every vote and hearing, but if you spot something off or think a bill was missed or improperly noted, feel free to email sgolonka@thenvindy.com.

How did Democrat-sponsored legislation fare? Did any Republican lawmakers find success?

Though hundreds of the more than 1,000 bills and resolutions introduced during the session were sponsored by Democrat-controlled committees, there were only 350 measures specifically sponsored and introduced by a lawmaker from the majority party.

Many were headline-grabbing progressive bills that drew staunch Republican opposition, including expanding permanent mail-in voting (AB321) and setting up Nevada to become one of the first states to have a public health insurance option starting in 2026 (SB420).

Of the 350 bills from Democratic lawmakers, 221 (63.1 percent) passed out of both houses. However, Assembly Democrats fared slightly better than their Senate counterparts, with 65 percent of their bills passing compared with 60 percent for those in the Senate Democratic Caucus.

Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro on the fourth day of the 81st session of the Legislature in Carson City on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

The success rate of bills introduced by Republican lawmakers was dismal in comparison.

Members of the Assembly Republican caucus had 27 of their 126 introduced measures (21 percent) pass out of both houses, while Senate Republicans had 19 of their 129 (15 percent) pass out of the Legislature. The majority of Republican-backed measures were not even given a chance by the majority party, as 56 percent of 255 bills and resolutions introduced by Republican legislators never received an initial committee hearing.

Failed Republican-backed bills included an effort to create a bipartisan redistricting commission (SB462), a measure requiring voters to provide proof of identity (SB225) and a bill that aimed to limit the number of legislative actions allowed per session (AB98).

Among the 46 Republican-sponsored measures that passed out of the Legislature were a variety of health care-related bills, including legislation from Sen. Joe Hardy (R-Boulder City) that appropriated state funds to the Nevada Health Service Corps for encouraging certain medical and dental practitioners to practice in underserved areas (SB233). Lawmakers also approved a measure from Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus (R-Wellington) authorizing the Board of Regents to waive fees for family members of National Guard members who reenlist (AB156).

Senate Minority Leader James A. Settelmeyer, left, and Senator Joe Hardy on the fourth day of the 81st session of the Legislature in Carson City on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

While Republicans fared far worse, Democratic lawmakers still had more than a third of their bills fall victim to the legislative process.

Some bills were overwhelmed by backlash, such as SB452, a bill that aimed to grant casino resorts greater authority to ban firearms on their premises but was opposed by a broad coalition of Republicans, gun right advocates and criminal justice reform organizations and failed to advance out of the Assembly. 

Other bills were watered down or axed after lawmakers deemed there was not enough time to consider the effects of a measure. Such was the case for AB161, a bill that started as a ban on the state’s “summary eviction” process, then was amended into a legislative study on the process but still never received a floor vote. Some measures fell just shy of the support they needed, including AB387, an attempt to license midwives that fell one vote shy of a two-thirds majority in the Senate on the final day of the session.

Which lawmakers were most prolific? Which lawmakers introduced the fewest bills?

Although Democratic lawmakers significantly outpaced Republican lawmakers in getting their bills passed out of both houses of the Legislature, the number of bills introduced by each legislator remained similar between the two parties.

On average, lawmakers from the majority party introduced 9.2 measures during the 2021 session, compared to 10.2 for lawmakers in the minority party. 

Those who led their parties in introductions were typically house leaders or more experienced lawmakers.

In the Assembly, Speaker Jason Frierson (D-Las Vegas) topped the rest of his party with 18 bills introduced and sponsored, while Minority Floor Leader Titus had the most bills introduced and sponsored of anyone in the Assembly Republican caucus with 14.

Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus speaks to Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson inside the Legislature on Monday, March 15, 2021 in Carson City. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Minority Leader James Settelmeyer (R-Minden) introduced and sponsored 25 bills, which was the most of any legislator during the session.

Four other Senators also stood above the pack: Sen. Dallas Harris (D-Las Vegas) led Democrats with 23 introductions, while Sen. Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas) and two Republican senators, Hardy and Keith Pickard (R-Henderson), rounded out the top with 20 bills each.

Assemblywoman Tracy Brown-May (D-Las Vegas), who was appointed by the Clark County Commission on Feb. 2, 2021 to fill the seat of Democratic former Assemblyman Alex Assefa, who resigned amid an investigation into whether he met residency requirements, was the only lawmaker who did not introduce a single piece of legislation this session.

The others at the bottom of the list — Assembly members Elaine Marzola (D-Henderson), Maggie Carlton (D-Las Vegas) and Richard McArthur (R-Las Vegas), and Sens. Fabian Doñate (D-Las Vegas) and Ira Hansen (R-Sparks) — introduced three bills each. Doñate was appointed to fill the seat of former Sen. Yvanna Cancela (D-Las Vegas), and introduced three of her bill draft requests submitted prior to the start of the session.

Which legislators had the most success with their bills?

Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui (D-Las Vegas) had more success getting her bills passed than any Nevada lawmaker during the 2021 session, as all eight bills that she introduced and sponsored passed out of both houses of the Legislature.

Jauregui had one bill that was passed only with the support of her own party members in both houses. AB286, which bans so-called “ghost guns” and other firearm assembly kits that don’t come equipped with serial numbers, passed through the Assembly and Senate along party lines. 

Other bills Jauregui introduced included measures focused on the environment and residential properties, as well as AB123, which increases fees on special Vegas Golden Knights license plates to help give more funds to charities.

Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui arrives on the first day of the 81st session of the Legislature in Carson City on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Five other Assembly Democrats, all based out of Southern Nevada, had at least 80 percent of their measures pass out of both houses, including Assembly Speaker Frierson. Frierson, who saw 15 of his 18 sponsored measures pass, introduced several high-profile Democratic measures, including a pair of big election bills: AB126, which moves the state to a presidential primary system instead of a caucus-based system, and AB321, which permanently expands mail-in voting. 

Other bills introduced by the Assembly leader that passed out of the Legislature included a measure requiring a three-day grace period before landlords can charge late fees for overdue rent (AB308) and a bill allowing college athletes to profit off of their name and likeness (AB254). Frierson was also the primary sponsor of AB484, which authorizes the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) to use $54 million in federal funds to modernize the state’s outdated unemployment insurance system.

Frierson had only three bills that did not pass out of the Legislature, including a controversial measure that would have allowed for the Washoe and Clark County school boards to be partially appointed (AB255).

Other lawmakers to have at least 80 percent of their measures pass out of both houses were Assembly members Venicia Considine (D-Las Vegas), Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas), Daniele Monroe-Moreno (D-North Las Vegas) and Howard Watts (D-Las Vegas).

Considine had five of her six introduced measures pass both houses with significant bipartisan support, including a measure that replaces the gendered language for crimes of sexual assault with gender-neutral language (AB214). 

Yeager saw eight of ten introduced bills pass, including AB341, which authorizes the licensing of cannabis consumption lounges, though he also presented several other, sometimes controversial, measures as chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. He presented AB400, a bill that removes “per se” limits on non-felony DUIs involving marijuana and that passed along party lines out of the Assembly. And he presented AB395, the death penalty bill that was scrapped by Democratic lawmakers in the Senate.

Though Monroe-Moreno had four of her five introduced bills pass out of both houses, including a measure that reduces the criminal penalties for minors found in possession of alcohol or small amounts of marijuana (AB158), she was also the sponsor of one of the few measures to fail to advance out of the Legislature because it failed to achieve a needed two-thirds majority. Her bill AB387, which would have established a midwifery licensure board, fell one vote shy of the two-thirds majority in the Senate.

Watts, a second-term assemblyman, sparked a variety of partisan disagreements throughout the session, as six of his ten introduced bills passed out of the Assembly with zero Republican support (Watts had eight bills pass out of both chambers). Those measures ranged broadly from a pair of environment-focused measures to a bill that bans offensive or racially discriminatory language and imagery, names, logos or mascots in Nevada schools (AB88).

In the Senate, only three legislators had more than two-thirds of their introduced measures pass out of both houses: Chris Brooks (D-Las Vegas), Roberta Lange (D-Las Vegas) and Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas).

Sen. Chris Brooks on the final day of the 81st session of the Legislature on Monday, May 31, 2021, in Carson City. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Brooks was the most successful of the bunch, getting five of his six introduced bills passed, including SB448, an omnibus energy bill expanding the state’s transmission infrastructure that was passed out of the Assembly on the final day of the session. With a larger number of introductions (13), Lange had twice as many bills passed as Brooks (10), covering a wide range of topics from health care to employment to a bill permanently authorizing curbside pickup at dispensaries (SB168).

The majority leader also succeeded in passing a higher percentage of her bills than most of her Senate colleagues, as 12 different Cannizzaro-sponsored bills made their way to the governor’s office. Those measures were met with varying degrees of bipartisan support, as a bill requiring data brokers to allow consumers to make requests to not sell their information passed with no opposition (SB260), while a bill barring the suspension of driver’s licenses for the nonpayment of fees received mixed support from Republicans in both chambers (SB219). Another bill, SB420, which enacts a state-managed public health insurance option, passed along party lines in both the Senate and Assembly.

A few Assembly Republicans stood above the pack, as Assembly members Jill Tolles (R-Reno), P.K. O’Neill (R-Carson City), Lisa Krasner (R-Reno) and Tom Roberts (R-Las Vegas) were the only members of their party to have at least half of their bills pass out of both houses.

Tolles, who was more likely to side with Democrats on close votes during the session than any other Republican lawmaker, found the most success of the group, as four of the six bills she introduced and sponsored were sent to the governor. Those bills that passed were met with broad bipartisan support, such as AB374 — that measure, which establishes a statewide working group in the attorney general’s office aimed at preventing and reducing substance use, passed unanimously out of both houses. The third-term legislator did introduce some bills that were killed by Democrats, such as AB248, which sought to allow "partisan observers" to watch over elections at polling places.

Assemblywoman Jill Tolles on the final day of the 81st session of the Legislature on Monday, May 31, 2021, in Carson City. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Four of O’Neill’s seven bills were sent to the governor. One allows the Stewart Indian School Cultural Center and Museum to designate certain buildings and grounds of the former boarding school for Native children for special events and authorizes the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages at such events (AB270). O’Neill was the only Republican present at a bill signing event for Native-focused legislation, after many of those bills passed with bipartisan support.

Half of Krasner and Roberts’ bills passed out of the Legislature, with each lawmaker introducing and sponsoring eight measures during the session.   

Nearly all four of Krasner’s bills that made it out of both chambers attracted unanimous votes, including AB143, which creates a statewide human trafficking task force and a plan for resources and services delivered to victims. Another well-received bill, AB251, seals juvenile criminal records automatically at age 18 and allows offenders to petition the court for the expungement or destruction of their juvenile records for misdemeanors. Both AB143 and AB251 have been signed by the governor.

Roberts, who was among the Republicans most likely to cross party lines and vote contrary to the majority of his caucus, had several bills sent to the governor with strong bipartisan support, including AB319, which establishes a pilot program for high school students to take dual credit courses at the College of Southern Nevada. Another of his four successful bills was AB326, which is aimed at curbing the illicit cannabis market.

Success for Republican senators in passing bills was more rare.

Sen. Ira Hansen (R-Sparks) had one bill sent to the governor and two bills killed without a hearing, giving him a higher percentage of bills passed (33 percent) than any other member of his caucus. Hansen’s one successful measure, SB112, aligns Nevada law with federal law regarding the administration of certain products for livestock. One of Hansen’s failed bills included an attempt to prohibit police officers from using surveillance devices without a warrant, unless there were pressing circumstances that presented danger to someone’s safety (SB213).

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer (R-Reno) was the second most successful member of his caucus in terms of getting bills passed, as three of the 14 measures (21 percent) he introduced passed out of both houses, including a measure establishing an esports advisory committee within the Gaming Control Board (SB165). But many of the measures introduced by Kieckhefer still failed, including a resolution to create an independent redistricting commission to conduct the reapportionment of districts (SJR9).

Only three other members of the Senate Republican caucus, including Minority Leader Settelmeyer, Hardy and Pete Goicoechea (R-Eureka), had at least 20 percent of their introduced measures pass fully out of the Legislature.

Which legislators had the least success with their bills?

Despite Democrats controlling both legislative chambers, a handful of Democratic lawmakers still had less than half of their sponsored measures sent off to the governor’s office.

In the Assembly, five members of the Democratic caucus failed to have 50 percent of their bills advance out of both houses, including Assemblywoman Michelle Gorelow (D-Las Vegas), who rounded out the bottom of the list as just one of her eight introduced bills passing out of the Legislature. Though that one successful bill — AB189, which establishes presumptive eligibility for pregnant women for Medicaid — garnered bipartisan support, many of Gorelow’s introduced measures failed to even receive an initial committee vote. Those failed bills included multiple more health care-focused measures, including an effort to require certain health plans to cover fertility preservation services (AB274).

The others in the caucus to have more than half of their bills fail were Assembly members Bea Duran (D-Las Vegas), David Orentlicher (D-Las Vegas), Edgar Flores (D-Las Vegas) and Cecelia Gonzalez (D-Las Vegas), who each had between 33 and 43 percent of their bills passed.

Duran found mixed success with her bills, getting three of her seven introduced measures passed, including a bill that requires all public middle schools, junior high schools and high schools to offer free menstrual products in bathrooms (AB224), but seeing four others fail, including one requiring public schools implement a survey about sexual misconduct (AB353).

One of Orentlicher’s five bills was among a small group that failed to advance at a mid-May deadline for second committee passage. The measure, AB243, would have required courts to consider whether a defendant is younger than 21 when deciding a sentence and failed to clear the deadline after previously passing out of the Assembly along party lines. Orentlicher introduced five bills, but only two passed out of both chambers.

While Flores introduced several measures that received broad unanimous support throughout the session, such as a measure that established a new, simpler Miranda warning for children (AB132), he also proposed several controversial measures that failed to advance out of the Assembly. One of those bills, AB351, would have allowed terminally ill patients to self-administer life-ending medication, and another, AB131, would have required all uniformed police officers to wear body cameras when interacting with the public. Only four of Flores’s ten introduced bills passed out of both legislative chambers.

Assemblymen Edgar Flores, center, and Glen Leavitt, left, speak inside the Legislature on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 in Carson City. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Gonzalez, a freshman, had four of her six introduced bills die at different times over the course of the session. Two of her bills died without ever being heard. Another bill she introduced (AB151) was never voted on by the Assembly because a Cannizzaro-sponsored bill took almost the same approach in barring the suspension of driver’s licenses for the nonpayment of fees. 

Gonzalez even had one piece of legislation, AB201, fail in its second house. That bill, which would have required more tracking and reporting on use of criminal informants, failed to advance out of a Senate committee after passing out of the Assembly along party lines.

Sen. James Ohrenschall (D-Las Vegas) was the only member of his caucus to have more than half of his bills fail. Though seven of his sponsored measures passed out of the Legislature, eleven other bills and resolutions from Ohrenschall failed to advance. Those bills often focused on the criminal justice system, including a measure that aimed to eliminate the death penalty for people who are convicted of first degree murder (SB228), though some stretched beyond that scope, such as an attempt to make Nevada the first state with an opt-out organ donation system (SB134) that failed to be voted out of committee.

Across the Senate and Assembly, eight Republican lawmakers had zero bills pass out of the Legislature. Those eight were Assembly members Alexis Hansen (R-Sparks), Annie Black (R-Mesquite), Andy Matthews (R-Las Vegas), Jill Dickman (R-Sparks), Jim Wheeler (R-Minden) and Richard McArthur (R-Las Vegas) and Sens. Carrie Buck (R-Henderson) and Pickard.

All eight of those Republicans were also among the least likely in their party to break from the majority of their caucus and vote with Democrats on legislation.

State Senator Keith Pickard on the fourth day of the 81st session of the Legislature in Carson City on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Those eight legislators introduced 70 measures combined, of which 58 died without ever receiving a committee hearing. Pickard was particularly unsuccessful, as he introduced 20 bills, and only one received a committee hearing before failing to advance past the first committee passage deadline in early April. The Henderson-based senator was previously derided by Democratic lawmakers, after backing out of a deal with Senate Democrats centered on a mining tax during one of the 2020 special sessions.

When were bills heard and when did they pass?

Throughout the session, lawmakers often waited until the latest possible days to complete the work needed for certain legislative deadlines.

In the week leading up to the first major deadline — bills and resolutions without an exemption were required to have passed out of their first committee by April 9 — lawmakers voted 336 bills out of committee. In the roughly nine weeks prior to that, only 236 bills were passed out of their first committee.

The other deadlines of the legislative session followed a similar pattern.

In the week leading up to and the week including the first house passage deadline (April 20), 340 bills received a vote in their first house, while just 71 bills were voted out of their first house in the 10 previous weeks.

The busiest week of the session was the week ending May 21, which included the second house passage deadline (May 20). During that week, 337 bills and resolutions were voted out of their second house, while a couple hundred more measures were acted on in some other way, including committee hearings, committee votes and first house votes.

The final shortened weekend of the session, stretching from May 29 through May 31, was also chock-full of legislative action, as lawmakers passed more than 150 bills out of their second house during those three final days.

From the classroom to the Legislature, Reno teenager champions solutions to ‘period poverty’

When Samantha Glover's high school English teacher assigned her an argumentative essay on any subject of her choice, the 16-year-old never imagined the classwork would inspire her to launch a nonprofit or become the driving force behind a bill requiring Nevada’s public schools to carry menstrual products in restrooms.

But as the energetic and outgoing teenager from Davidson Academy in Reno researched potential topic areas for the paper, she stumbled across the concept of period poverty — the inability to access menstrual products, menstrual education or facilities to change or clean up during menstruation. 

As she learned that food stamps do not cover menstrual products and roughly one in four teenagers have missed class because of a lack of access to menstrual products, Glover became aware of “period poverty’s” debilitating effects on low-income communities in the state and around the world.

"I was so shocked, because as someone who didn't have to worry about where my next tampon was coming from, it never occurred to me that other people were struggling to attend school or go about their daily life because they can't afford menstrual products," Glover said in an interview with the IndyMatters podcast.

Glover also noticed period poverty in schools and the way that menstruation can cause panic. Though some schools may offer menstrual products in bathrooms, dispensers may be broken or require quarters that students lack. Someone in need could always ask a friend, but that is a gamble. School nurses may have supplies, but that requires requesting permission to go to the nurse’s office and explaining the need to leave class. Students may face the dilemma of stuffing their underwear with toilet paper or paper towels to soak up blood or just missing school altogether to avoid embarrassment. 

Seeing few programs addressing period poverty, Glover decided to tackle the problem in 2020 by co-founding Red Equity, a Colorado and Nevada-based nonprofit focused on decreasing the stigma around period poverty and promoting menstrual equity. Glover and others regularly distribute menstrual products to low-income and homeless communities through the organization and bring attention to a hidden topic in the community.

Nevada has taken some steps to address menstrual equity, including passage of a 2018 ballot question removing the so-called “pink tax” from sale of tampons and other menstruation hygiene products in the state. 

Still, Glover said more protections were needed and began to call lobbyists to see what steps she could take to help pass legislation guaranteeing students access to menstrual products — a move that at least six other states have taken in recent years. She drafted a mock-up bill based on similar legislation that passed in Virginia.

Her efforts led to email chains, phone calls and eventually an introduction to Assemblywoman Bea Duran (D-Las Vegas), who agreed to champion the concept in the form of AB224, which passed unanimously out of both the Senate and Assembly during the 2021 session. 

The measure requires all public middle schools, junior high schools and high schools to offer free menstrual products in bathrooms. But because many school districts may not be able to implement the program all at once, districts will follow a phased-in implementation plan. The phased-in approach stipulates that districts must implement the bill in at least 25 percent of schools within the district, prioritizing lower-income schools and eventually expanding the program to all schools.

Washoe County estimated that the bill would cost the district around $20,000 a year, and Clark County placed the program's cost at about $132,000 each year. The costs would cover pads, tampons and the installation of dispensers and supplies, with the first year of the program expected to be slightly higher because of start-up expenses. During testimony on the bill, however, officials noted that the predicted costs were likely overestimates.

Samantha Glover, cofounder and executive director of Red Equity, inside the Legislature on the final day of the 81st session, Monday, May 31, 2021, in Carson City. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Despite the unanimous passage, Glover said she still experienced questions about her qualifications to push the bill.

"People were like, 'oh, are you sure you've thought this through or know how to implement this,'" Glover said. "I don't have the legislative experience, but I have the experience of being a young person around those who've experienced period poverty and a passion for this issue.”

Glover also attributed the bill's success to individuals’ ability to express public comment via Zoom and the telephone. Glover, who does not yet have a driver’s license, said that without virtual access, it would have been challenging to make it to Carson City and advocate for the bill. She added that many of the other young people she was working with and who called in support of the legislation would also have been unable to share their voices.

The bill passing signifies the difference young people can make in state law, Glover said, noting that watching lawmakers support a piece of legislation that she and other young people advocated for felt "monumental."

"Legislators listen," she said. "That's what I found out. They do work for us. At the end of the day, we are their constituents regardless of age."

Looking forward, Glover is not resting on her laurels. She said her future plans could include encouraging college campuses to provide menstrual products and ensuring that incarcerated individuals have access to those products as well.

"I am still continuously working on Red Equity. We are still distributing products, hosting donation drives for menstrual products across the nation," Glover said. "In terms of other things [I'm planning on doing] maybe get my driver's license, but in advocacy, I think it's coming back to the next legislative session in a few years prepared to advocate for more menstrual equity policy."

Nevada grows majority-female Legislature after 2020 election, with more than 60 percent of seats to be filled by women

Assembly Majority Floor Leader Teresa Benitez-Thompson, right, speaks with Deputy Minority Whip Robin Titus, on Friday, July 31, 2020 during the first day of the 32nd Special Session of the Legislature in Carson City.

Two years after Nevada made history as the first U.S. state to have women compose a majority of its state Legislature, lawmakers will return to Carson City in 2021 with nearly 60 percent of the seats filled by female legislators — by far the largest percentage of any statehouse in the country.

Though Democrats lost three seats in the Assembly and one in the state Senate after final vote totals were released over the weekend, one of the most notable changes heading into the 2021 Legislature will be the gender makeup; female lawmakers will now represent 38 seats in the 63-member body.

In total, the 42-seat state Assembly will have 27 female lawmakers and 15 male lawmakers, including 19 female Democrats and eight female Republicans. In the 21-member state Senate, men will hold 10 seats and females will hold 11 (two Republicans and nine Democrats). Women held 33 of the 63 seats in the 2019 Legislature, hitting the majority mark after two female Assembly members (Rochelle Nguyen and Bea Duran) were appointed to vacant positions by the Clark County Commission in December 2019.

The increase in female lawmakers can be attributed to a variety of factors, including several retiring or termed out male legislators being replaced by women and both parties running female candidates in several major races, including three close state Senate seats. That means substantial turnover — roughly a quarter of legislative seats will be filled by newcomers — will result in Nevada again having the nation’s highest percentage of female lawmakers.

Democratic Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, first elected in 1999, said the gender balance was closer to 70-30 male dominated when she entered the Legislature, but that gradual cultural shifts over the next 20 years helped drive the shift to first gender parity and later a clear female majority in the statehouse.

“Women realize that we've got to be at the table,” she said. “We've worked very hard for that. We've educated folks. We've gotten them involved. And they've seen what's at stake, and they want to be part of the conversation. I think that's fantastic.”

Regardless of gender make-up, lawmakers entering the 2021 legislative session will have an immediate and pressing agenda: constitutionally-mandated redistricting; a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and likely additional major budget cuts to the state general fund; and a host of potential tax issues, including efforts by the Clark County Education Association to qualify a sales and gaming tax initiative, and proposals brought during the 2020 summer special session to hike the cap on mining taxes in the state constitution.

But Jill Tolles, a Republican Assemblywoman entering her third term, said that growing ranks of female lawmakers also have helped bring more legislation to the forefront on previously under-addressed issues, including measures aimed at preventing sexual assault or sex trafficking.

Tolles said it was special to be a part of history as part of the first female majority Legislature, but that it will be more important when reaching gender parity isn’t newsworthy.

“It's still exciting, and it's still wonderful to see, but I think that one of the things that we saw in 2019 was we very quickly after the celebrations, just rolled up our sleeves and got to work on policy,” she said. “And not just policy on some of those issues that we hadn't traditionally given as much light to or given as much time to in the past, but all policies that impact men and women equally.”

Nationwide in 2020, only about 29.3 percent of lawmakers in state legislatures are female, according to a tally by the Center for American Women and Politics.

Seven legislative districts are going from male to female representative, including:

  • Assembly District 2, where Republican Heidi Kasama will take over a seat held by termed-out Assemblyman John Hambrick
  • Assembly District 6, where Democrat Shondra Summers-Armstrong will take the seat held previously by William McCurdy (elected to the Clark County Commission in 2020)
  • Assembly District 18, where Democrat Venicia Considine will take the seat of former Assemblyman Richard Carrillo. Carrillo left the seat to mount an unsuccessful bid for state Senate
  • Assembly District 19, where Republican Annie Black defeated incumbent Chris Edwards in the June primary election. Black did not face a general election opponent
  • Assembly District 21, where Democrat Elaine Marzola will represent the seat formerly held by Democrat Ozzie Fumo (who ran and lost in a bid for state Supreme Court)
  • Assembly District 30, where Democrat Natha Anderson will represent a district previously held by Democrat Greg Smith. Smith was appointed to the seat after the resignation of former Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle amid accusations of sexual harassment
  • State Senate District 7, where Democrat Roberta Lange takes the seat of termed-out state Sen. David Parks. Lange won a narrow primary victory over incumbent Assembly members Ellen Spiegel and Richard Carrillo, but did not face a general election opponent

Three districts previously represented by female lawmakers will now have a male representative, including:

  • Assembly District 7, previously held by Democrat Dina Neal but that now will be represented by Democrat C.H. Miller
  • Assembly District 20, previously held by Democrat Ellen Spiegel but that now will be represented by Democrat David Orentlicher
  • Assembly District 37, where Republican Andy Matthews ousted Democratic incumbent Shea Backus

The tally of female lawmakers has increased since the start of the 2019 session, owing to vacancies (several resignations and a death) of seats held by men but filled by female appointees. Ahead of the 2020 election, the 63-member body was composed of 34 female lawmakers and 29 male lawmakers. 

Carlton said she has enjoyed working with an increasingly diverse group of female lawmakers of both parties during the legislative session, saying that the legislative process is improved when more diverse viewpoints are brought to the table. While female lawmakers aren’t a monolith — she noted that many come from different career fields and range from retirees to those just starting their careers — Carlton said that their outlook and approach to the legislative process yield beneficial results.

“We have a tendency more to want to wrap our arms around something and try to solve all the pieces of the puzzle, while I think the guys sometimes want to dissect it and see what's wrong, and then put it together,” she said. “We come at things in a different viewpoint with all the different life experiences that we have.”

Biden narrowly leads Trump, but major Nevada races too close to call after Election Day

Joe Biden maintains the slimmest of leads in Nevada over President Donald Trump, while the other major congressional, statewide and local races significantly narrowed early Wednesday morning.

Biden and Democratic congressional candidates running in the state’s two competitive House districts — Susie Lee and Steven Horsford — maintain small leads over their Republican opponents but the races remain too close to call, particularly after a late batch of results from Clark County helped Republicans candidates there catch up to their Democrat opponents.

Down the ballot, it appears unlikely that Democrats will have supermajorities in either chamber of the Legislature next year, while a well-funded ballot question to take the Board of Regents out of the state Constitution appears in danger amid strong rural opposition.

More than 1.2 million Nevadans cast a ballot in the general election, although it’s unclear what the total turnout will be as last-minute ballots mailed in or dropped off have not yet been tallied.

Here’s a look at the status of major races on the 2020 ballot after initial results on Election Night:

Presidential:

The presidential race in Nevada remained too close to call Wednesday morning with former Vice President Joe Biden leading over President Donald Trump by a narrow 0.6 percentage points, or 7,647 votes. Hillary Clinton defeated Trump by 2.4 percentage points in the Silver State four years ago.

The presidential election itself also remained up in the air as of early Wednesday morning, with key races in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina and Georgia still yet to be decided.

Congressional: 

In a pair of the state’s most competitive congressional races, preliminary vote tallies favored incumbent Democrats — though by narrow margins.

In the hotly contested race for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District in suburban Clark County, incumbent Democrat Susie Lee led Republican challenger Dan Rodimer by 1.5 percentage points, or 3,233 votes.

And in neighboring District 4, incumbent Democrat Steven Horsford led his Republican challenger, former one-term Assemblyman Jim Marchant, by 2.4 points, or a margin of 6,697 votes.

Meanwhile, incumbents in Nevada’s remaining two congressional districts sailed to victory after early returns, with Democratic Rep. Dina Titus securing Las Vegas’ District 1 by a 26.6 point margin, and Republican Rep. Mark Amodei winning Northern Nevada’s District 2 by a 15.8 margin as of early Wednesday morning.

Legislature:

Democratic dreams of holding super-majorities in both the Assembly and Senate appeared on thin ice after initial results were posted late Tuesday, with no clear decision yet in many of the swing districts that will determine super-majority control.

Two Las Vegas-area state Senate districts remained too close to call early Wednesday, with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro and Democratic candidate Kristee Watson trailing their Republican opponents — April Becker and Carrie Buck, respectively. In Reno, incumbent Republican Sen. Heidi Gansert posted a notable lead over her Democratic opponent, Wendy Jauregui-Jackins, in a seat necessary for Democrats to take to capture a two-thirds majority in the state Senate.

In the Assembly, Democrats appeared to be in danger of losing three seats — two in Southern Nevada, Districts 4 and 37, and one in Northern Nevada, District 31 — while leading narrowly in a fourth competitive seat in Assembly District 29. Republicans are likely to keep control of the fifth competitive seat, Assembly District 2, where Republican Heidi Kasama is leading by a sizable margin over Democrat Radhika Kunnel.

Democrats can only afford to lose one of the four competitive seats they currently hold in the Assembly in order to retain their supermajority.

Other less competitive races that remained too close to call early Wednesday morning include Assembly Districts 21, 35 and 41.

Candidates who have won their races include:

  • Dina Neal (D) in SD4
  • Dallas Harris (D) in SD11
  • Pete Goicoechea (R) in SD19
  • Brittney Miller (D) in AD5
  • Shondra Summers-Armstrong (D) in AD6
  • Cameron "C.H." Miller (D) in AD7
  • Jason Frierson (D) in AD8
  • Steve Yeager (D) in AD9
  • Bea Duran (D) in AD11
  • Susie Martinez (D) in AD12
  • Maggie Carlton (D) in AD14
  • Howard Watts (D) in AD15
  • Cecilia Gonzalez (D) in AD16
  • Clara Thomas (D) in AD17
  • Venicia Considine (D) in AD18
  • Glen Leavitt (R) in AD23
  • Lisa Krasner (R) in AD26
  • Teresa Benitez-Thompson (D) in AD27
  • Edgar Flores (D) in AD28
  • Natha Anderson (D) in AD30
  • Alexis Hansen (R) in AD32
  • Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod (D) in AD34
  • Jim Wheeler (R) in AD39
  • PK O’Neill (R) in AD40
  • Alexander Assefa (D) in AD42

The 11 Assembly and three Senate candidates who were the only person running in their districts are automatically assumed to have won their races.

Local Government: 

Three Democrats emerged victorious in Clark County Commission races, but one contest was too close to call after initial results.

Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft, a Democrat, retained his District A seat, snagging 52 percent of the votes in initial returns. His opponent, Republican Michael Thomas, captured 48 percent. 

Clark County Commission Chair Marilyn Kirkpatrick, a Democrat, also coasted to re-election, with 53 percent of early returns in the District B race. Her challenger, Republican Kevin Williams, garnered 44 percent of early returns. 

Democrat William McCurdy, meanwhile, handily won the District D race, replacing term-limited Commissioner Lawrence Weekly. McCurdy captured 77 percent of the early returns, while his opponent, David Washington, who’s not affiliated with a political party, only earned 23 percent. 

The District C race for Clark County Commission was neck-and-neck based on early returns. Republican Stavros Anthony received 50.8 percent of early returns, while Democrat Ross Miller grabbed 49.2 percent. The winner in this race will replace term-limited Commissioner Larry Brown.

Up north, Republican incumbent Vaughn Hartung won the District 4 race for the Washoe County Commission. Hartung grabbed 58 percent of the early returns, while his competitor, Marie Baker, snagged 42 percent. 

In the other Washoe County Commission race — for District 1 — Democrat Alexis Hill defeated Republican incumbent Marsha Berkbigler in an election upset. Hill emerged with 55 percent of the early returns, while Berkbigler received 45 percent.

Three Reno City Council members were re-elected to the board, but one race remains too close to call. Reno City Councilman Oscar Delgado won the Ward 3 race, capturing about 63 percent of the early returns. His opponent, Rudy Leon, won about 37 percent of the vote. 

Councilwoman Neoma Jardon was re-elected to represent Ward 5, winning about 54 percent of the early returns, while her opponent, Darla Fink, received about 46 percent of the vote. 

Councilman Devon Reese defeated his opponent, Eddie Lorton, to continue serving in the council’s at-large seat. Reese snagged roughly 55 percent of the early returns, while Lorton received about 45 percent.

But the Ward 1 race remains close. Reno City Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus retained a slight 104-vote lead in a closely-watched race against real estate agent J.D. Drakulich. 

Supreme Court

District Court Judge Doug Herndon defeated Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo in a race for an open Nevada Supreme Court seat, capturing about 47 percent of the early returns. Fumo received about 36 percent of the vote. “None of these Candidates” made up about 18 percent of the early returns.

Herndon was running to replace Associate Chief Justice Mark Gibbons, who announced last year that he would not run for re-election. 

Fumo, who has practiced law since 1996 and served as an adjunct professor at the UNLV Boyd School of Law, won the support of progressives. Herndon, a former deputy district attorney who has sat on the bench since 2005, received support from a PAC primarily funded by Sheldon Adelson.

Ballot Questions

The campaign for Question 1, a measure that would remove the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education from the Nevada Constitution, remained too close to call after initial returns.

However, all four other ballot measures have prevailed. They include:

  • Question 2, which amends the Nevada Constitution to permit same-sex marriage
  • Question 3, which restructures the Board of Pardons
  • Question 4, which enshrines a voter’s bill of rights in the Nevada Constitution
  • Question 6, which raises the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards calling for greater use of renewable energy

EMILY’s List announces ‘historic’ $250,000 investment to keep the Legislature blue

EMILY’s List, the pro-choice women's political advocacy group, has invested more than a quarter of a million dollars into competitive Nevada legislative races this cycle with the goal of keeping the Legislature in Democratic hands.

The organization has spent $256,100 this cycle in direct contributions to lawmakers, candidates and Democratic legislative caucuses, including $150,000 to the Nevada Senate Democratic Caucus. EMILY’s List also contributed $15,500 to the Nevada Assembly Democratic Caucus and $10,000 each to Democratic candidates in several competitive Assembly races.

According to EMILY’s List, it is the largest financial investment the organization has made in legislative races in Nevada in an effort to “increase and diversify women’s leadership across the country.”

“With early voting in full swing and so much at stake for health care and redistricting in 2021, we are confident that our historic investment will make the difference in the final push toward Election Day and once again help get our women over the finish line,” Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, said in a statement.

In total, the organization has endorsed 21 pro-choice Democratic female legislative candidates in Nevada this cycle, including five in Senate races, Kristee Watson in District 5, Senate Democratic Leader Nicole Cannizzaro in District 6, Roberta Lange in District 7, Sen. Dallas Harris in District 11 and Wendy Jauregui-Jackins in District 15.

In the Assembly, EMILY’s List is backing 16 candidates: Radhika Kunnel in District 2, Assemblywoman Connie Munk in District 4, Assemblywoman Brittney Miller in District 5, Shondra Summers-Armstrong in District 6, Assemblywoman Rochelle Nguyen in District 10, Assemblywoman Bea Duran in District 11, Cecelia González in District 16, Clara Thomas in District 17, Venicia Considine in District 18, Elaine Marzola in District 21, Assemblywoman Lesley Cohen in District 29, Natha Anderson in District 30, Assemblywoman Michelle Gorelow in District 35, Assemblywoman Shea Backus in District 37 and Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui in District 41.

Two years ago, Nevada became the first state in the nation to have a female-majority Legislature. Of the 63 lawmakers who serve in the Senate and Assembly, 33 are women.

Women are likely to hold at least 36 seats in the Legislature next year, either because they are running with a party that has an overwhelming voter registration advantage in their district, face no opponents, are not up for re-election or both candidates in a competitive race are women.

Live Blog: Candidates make it official during Nevada’s two-week candidate filing period

Nevada kicked off a two-week period March 2 in which candidates who are seeking offices other than as judges must file paperwork to appear on the ballot.

Candidates must appear in person, pay a filing fee, show identification and sign paperwork to complete the transaction. For seats within a single county, candidates file at that county clerk’s office; for multi-county seats, they file with the Nevada Secretary of State.

The filing period is a major step for candidates to make their bids official, even though many have already announced their candidacy and have started campaigning. Judicial candidates had a separate filing period in January.

The primary election is June 9, and early voting runs from May 23 to June 5. The general election is Nov. 3, with an early voting period that runs from Oct. 17-30.

Below are highlights from the candidate filing period, as well as a spreadsheet of filed candidates. Check back over the next two weeks for updates.

Teresa Benitez-Thompson, Natha Anderson and Skip Daly after filing to run as Democrats in the Assembly on March 2, 2020. Photo by Jazmin Orozco-Rodriguez.

9:10 p.m.: Assembly candidates from rural, Northern Nevada file for office

Candidates filing for legislative seats in Northern Nevada took a less charitable view than their southern counterparts of the Clark County teacher union’s efforts to hike sales tax rates and gaming tax rates by statewide ballot initiative.

While legislative leaders in Las Vegas avoided direct criticism of the Clark County Education Association’s proposal to raise more than a billion dollars through the two tax increases, northern Democrats were more blunt in their assessment.

“I'm not a big fan of constitutional amendments or ballot measures,” said Skip Daly, who filed to run for his Assembly seat. “I'm not saying that they're off base and that it may not be needed, but I think you should give the Legislature a chance to do his job.”

He said lawmakers would have the chance to weigh the pros and cons of various tax increases more than the average citizen would with a ballot measure. And he suggested mining might be a better route than a dramatic increase on the gaming tax.

“It's easy to pick on gaming,” he said. “The miners have been getting a free ride for 50 plus years now.”

Assembly candidate Natha Anderson, a teacher and lobbyist for the Nevada State Education Association — the state union from which CCEA split — also opposed the proposed ballot measures. She said she learned from a 2014 tax hike ballot measure that failed by a 4-to-1 margin, and also a 2010 measure promoted by her union in 2010 — IP1 — whose revenue has since been diverted to pay for other state needs aside from education.

“I've got problems with it … there's no guarantee it's going to education. We don't know where else it's going to go,” she said. She pointed out that factors, such as coronavirus, that could affect casino revenue. “Another concern I have is with gaming being so dependent upon so many other areas that are outside the control of people in Nevada.”

Teresa Benitez-Thompson, the Democratic majority leader who has served in the Assembly for a decade, said she learned the challenges of promoting a sales tax increase when she worked to enact one a few years ago in Washoe County.

“The polling at that time told us that the appetite was very, very low for such increases. So it took a coalition of business, community members, private community members and electeds coming together to work on that ballot initiative, and ultimately to see it succeed,” she said.

“And so that's absolutely one of the things I'll be watching for. Is this going to be something that's supported equally by the people and by the business community?”

Skip Daly filing to run as a Democrat in the Assembly on March 2, 2020. Photo by Jazmin Orozco-Rodriguez.

Assembly members Benitez-Thompson and Daly filed for re-election at the Washoe County Government Center. Anderson filed for the seat held by Greg Smith, who was appointed during the 2019 session but is not seeking to retain the seat.

Republican Sandra Linares filed to run against Daly, and Republican Barb Hawn filed to challenge Benitez-Thompson.

Republican Lisa Krasner filed for re-election, and Democrat Wendy Jauregui-Jackins, whose sister is an assemblywoman, filed to run for the seat held by Republican Sen. Heidi Gansert.

In rural districts, Assembly members John Ellison, Jim Wheeler, Al Kramer and Gregory Hafen filed for re-election with the Nevada Secretary of State. Democrat Derek Morgan also filed for Assembly District 40, which is currently held by Kramer.

Republican Sen. Pete Goicoechea, who represents a vast rural district, is also seeking re-election.

Rep. Steven Horsford also filed to run for re-election to the 4th Congressional District. Four people challenging Horsford or 2nd Congressional District Rep. Mark Amodei also filed.

“Despite the many distractions taking place in Washington, I remain focused on the issues that matter most to my constituents,” Horsford said in a statement. “I take my responsibility to serve the people of Nevada seriously.”

— Michelle Rindels

Nevada Democratic Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, center, addresses the media and public with fellow democrat assembly candidates outside Clark County Government Center Monday, March 2, 2020, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ronda Churchill for The Nevada Independent)

4:25 p.m.: Assembly, Senate candidates file in Clark County

Democratic leaders from the Assembly and Senate posed for photos, hugged and caught up with their fellow state lawmakers — along with those hoping to become their colleagues — Monday afternoon at the Clark County Government Center.

The quasi-reunion happened on the first day of candidate filing, kicking off a campaign season that will see Democrats try to hang onto their majorities in both houses of the Legislature. But Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson and Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro painted an optimistic portrait of that quest heading into the election cycle.

“We’re going to fight hard for it,” Frierson said of maintaining the Assembly’s Democratic supermajority. “We realize we have a couple of tight races, and I think that we are committed to managing the advancement of good policies.”

Before heading in to file the candidacy paperwork, Frierson and Cannizzaro rattled off a list of Democratic accomplishments from the 2019 Legislature and vowed to move the needle forward in 2021. They cited progress with climate change, surprise medical billing, prescription drug pricing, minimum wage and education funding as some examples.

At least some of those issues, though, likely will re-emerge during the next legislative session. The Clark County Education Association already has filed two initiative petitions that seek to increase the gaming tax and sales tax to significantly boost K-12 education funding.

The Democratic leaders have largely avoided directly addressing the union-led effort, and they did so again Monday.

“I’m not in charge of ballot initiatives,” Frierson said. “What I support is us doing the right thing in the Legislature to advance good policies. And, as I said earlier, I think the responsible thing to do for us is to put pressure on our colleagues who have not quite gotten there yet to say, ‘This is worthwhile, and we need to do our jobs and provide for our basic community’s needs.’ That’s going to be our focus.”

Cannizzaro echoed that sentiment, saying the conversation surrounding education funding is far from over despite increases to the per-pupil amount and more money for school safety. 

“Education funding remains something we’ll continue to talk about as we go into this election cycle and well into this next session,” she said.

But the first hurdle is the general election, which could be affected by the presidential race and turnout. Presidential elections can have a coattails effect, inspiring voters to select candidates of a certain party all the way down the ballot, or a balancing effect, in which people cast votes for the opposite party on down-ballot races as a hedge to prevent too much of an ideological lean.

Frierson said it’s too early to tell what the effect might be this year, but he urged voters to look at the larger picture.

“I think that folks who are concerned about which candidate ultimately prevails need to remember, unlike four years ago, where it was largely unknown what would happen, we’ve now seen that it’s not just about your candidate,” he said. “It’s about the makeup of the federal bench. It’s about climate change. It’s about things that we have to live with for generations.”

The following Democratic candidates backed by the Nevada Senate Democratic Caucus filed in Clark County on Monday afternoon: Pat Spearman (Senate District 1); Chris Brooks (Senate District 3); Dina Neal (Senate District 4); Kristee Watson (Senate District 5); Nicole Cannizzaro (Senate District 6); Roberta Lange (Senate District 7); and Dallas Harris (Senate District 11.)

Likewise, these were the Democratic candidates endorsed by the Nevada Assembly Democratic Caucus who also filed Monday in Clark County: Daniele Monroe-Moreno (Assembly District 1); Selena Torres (Assembly District 3); Connie Munk (Assembly District 4); Brittney Miller (Assembly District 5); Shondra Summers-Armstrong (Assembly District 6); Cameron Miller (Assembly District 7); Jason Frierson (Assembly District 8); Steve Yeager (Assembly District 9); Rochelle Nguyen (Assembly District 10); Bea Duran (Assembly District 11); Susie Martinez (Assembly District 12); Maggie Carlton (Assembly District 14); Howard Watts (Assembly District 15); Clara Thomas (Assembly District 17); David Orentlicher (Assembly District 20); Elaine Marzola (Assembly District 21); Edgar Flores (Assembly District 28); Lesley Cohen (Assembly District 29); Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod (Assembly District 34); Michelle Gorelow (Assembly District 35); Shea Backus (Assembly District 37); Alexander Assefa (Assembly District 42.) 

It wasn’t just Democrats heading to the Clark County Government Center for filing. Andy Matthews, past president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, announced in a news release that he had filed as a Republican for the Assembly seat in District 37.  

“Today marks an important milestone in our campaign to fight for Nevada’s future,” Matthews said in a statement. “I continue to be overwhelmed and honored by the incredible support our campaign is attracting, and I’m thrilled today to take this crucial step toward victory this year.” 

Assembly Republicans also tweeted a photo of several incumbents — Melissa Hardy (Assembly District 22), Chris Edwards (Assembly District 19), Glen Leavitt (Assembly District 23), Tom Roberts (Assembly District 13) and Gregory Hafen (Assembly District 36) — filing for candidacy Monday in Clark County.

For a full list of candidates who filed in Clark County on Monday, click here

— Jackie Valley and Shannon Miller

Terms limits, higher ambitions mean at least 11 open seats in the Legislature in 2020

The inside of the Nevada Legislature during State of the State

About a dozen seats in the Legislature will have no incumbent in the race in the 2020 election, setting the stage for some fierce competition when candidates formally file to run in March, according to an analysis from The Nevada Independent.

Five Assembly members are eschewing a bid for re-election and setting their eyes on higher office. That includes Democratic Assemblywoman Dina Neal, who’s seeking to replace appointed Sen. Marcia Washington in a heavily Democratic district that was held by ex-Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson before his resignation and conviction for misusing campaign funds.

Atkinson is currently serving a two-year sentence in a federal penitentiary in Atwater, California, near Merced.

Term limits, which cap a lawmaker’s service at 12 years in each chamber, will prevent Sen. David Parks and Sen. Joyce Woodhouse from re-election. Senate Democrats have endorsed Kristee Watson to replace Woodhouse, but Assembly Democratic colleagues Richard Carrillo and Ellen Spiegel will have to compete against each other for the opportunity to replace Parks.

Assemblyman William McCurdy II is running for the Clark County Commission seat now held by termed-out Commissioner Lawrence Weekly. But it’s not a straight shot — at least three other candidates want the seat, including North Las Vegas Councilman Isaac Barron, Clark County public information administrator Tanya Flanagan and Democratic Sen. Mo Denis.

Denis will have a soft landing if he doesn’t prevail. He’s halfway through a four-year Senate term and can return to the Senate if the commission election doesn’t work out.

Democratic Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo is passing up another go at the Assembly in favor of a bid for a Nevada Supreme Court seat. The terms of two of the seven justices on the high court will be ending just after the 2020 election.

Other incumbents who won’t be running for their seats include Republican Assemblyman John Hambrick, who is prevented by term limits from another bid. 

Democratic Assemblyman Greg Smith — who was appointed from a field of 15 hopefuls to finish the term of Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle when Sprinkle resigned amid sexual harassment allegations — said he won’t run. Smith cited the death of his wife, former state Sen. Debbie Smith, as a reminder that “life is short” and that he doesn’t want to run a campaign every two years. 

A seat held by Democratic Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson, who died unexpectedly in May at age 51 and was not replaced, is also open in 2020.

Three incumbents did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Nevada Independent on whether they would seek re-election. They include Democratic Assembly members Steve Yeager, Heidi Swank and Bea Duran.

Twelve senators — including Denis — are mid-term and do not have to mount an election to maintain their current posts. All others whose terms are up confirmed directly to the Indy or through a public announcement that they would run for their current seats in 2020. 

It won’t be easy for all of them, especially lawmakers in some of the swingiest seats. Democratic Assemblywoman Lesley Cohen will have to defend her seat in a challenge from former Assemblyman Stephen Silberkraus.

Democratic Assemblywoman Shea Backus has at least two Republican challengers in her swing district, including former congressional candidate Michelle Mortenson and Andy Matthews, who played a key role in Republican Adam Laxalt’s unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018.

Democratic Assemblyman Skip Daly faces a challenge from Republican mental health practitioner Jake Wiskerchen in a district that he once won by a mere 38 votes.

And in the Senate, expect tough races in three swing districts: Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro and Sen. Heidi Gansert have already launched campaigns to defend their seats. Watson and Republican Carrie Buck, a school principal who lost a close race in the district in 2016, are expected to run competitive campaigns for Woodhouse’s seat. 

Woodhouse isn’t about to make the race easy for Buck, who volunteered to replace Woodhouse had a Republican attempt to recall the senator in 2017 prevailed. Woodhouse released text messages to The Nevada Independent last week that Buck sent earlier this year trying to apologize for her role in the recall effort and asking for Woodhouse’s help applying for a state superintendent job.

Democrats have called the failed recall campaigns “careless and cynical attempts to undermine our Democratic process,” and Woodhouse called Buck’s texts “inappropriate” and “unseemly.” Buck, for her part, said the messages were a “peace offering” and said the retiring senator has a “vendetta.”

Freshman Orientation: Assemblywoman Beatrice Duran

This is one in a series of profiles of legislative newcomers.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN BEATRICE DURAN

  • Freshman Democrat appointed to replace Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz, who resigned in December in order to run for Las Vegas City Council
  • Represents District 11, which includes parts of Downtown Las Vegas and North Las Vegas
  • District 11 is majority Democratic (55 percent Democratic, 12 percent Republican and 33 percent nonpartisan or other in the 2018 election).
  • The Clark County Commission voted unanimously to appoint Duran.
  • She will sit on the Education, Government Affairs and Health and Human Services committees.

FAMILY AND EDUCATION:

Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Duran received her GED from a Colorado High School before moving to Las Vegas. She is the mother of two children and grandmother to four, and in her free time enjoys spending time with family, as well as organizing and attending union events.

CAREER:

Duran has been working in Nevada’s service industry since 1985 when she started work at the Four Queens as a server. After helping to unionize her workplace, she joined the staff of the Culinary Union Local 226 in 1999. For the last 10 years, she has worked as a grievance specialist, representing union members in workplace disputes.

ON NEVADA AND THE ISSUES:

What are your top legislative priorities for the 2019 session?

Ever since the 2016 election, Nevadans from all walks of life across our state — particularly people of color, women, immigrants, and blue-collar workers — have had to endure an unrelenting and hostile agenda under this presidency. That is why voters, even those who sat on the sidelines in previous elections, mobilized themselves as a means to push back and retake their government for the people. I understand what is at stake, and that is why I plan to pursue changes that put local communities in my district first. 

First and foremost, I believe health care should be treated as a right — not as a privilege or a product. No one should have to worry about being able to afford quality health-care coverage in our state.

Moreover, as a mother and grandmother, I know our children need and deserve high quality schools — from pre-K to college. We can do this by reforming the funding formula so that school districts are equitable and have adequate funding, reducing class sizes in order to provide ample attention to each student, and raising teachers’ salaries so that we can attract the best and brightest to teach in our classrooms.

Finally, I will also devote considerable energy towards pursuing labor rights and economic justice for all Nevadans. In a state with this much economic growth and this much money, there is no reason why the lowest paid workers should earn $8.25 per hour. Rent and utility costs are going up. Food costs are getting more and more expensive. It’s unsustainable. We can no longer settle for salaries that, at best, keep Nevadans living paycheck to paycheck.

What programs/parts of the state government could be cut? What programs/areas need more funding in 2019?

We have a lot of work to do in this session to ensure that voters feel like their voices are heard in the legislature. From health-care reform to education, we have an unprecedented number of challenges to overcome this year. After 20 years of divided leadership, we finally have a unified government that will work for each and every Nevada family. As we move forward in the legislative session, I will look for ways to maximize currently available funds and support adjustments when needed. One thing is certain: I will advocate for policies that prioritize the working-class communities in our state which have felt underrepresented in the past.

What specifically should Nevada do to improve health care this session? How about education?

Health care is broken in America. In 2018, voters consistently stated that they want health care that is affordable and accessible. And here in Nevada voters elected candidates up and down the ballot that called for meaningful health-care reform. 

We need to resist any attempts to gut the Affordable Health Care Act as well as find new ways to expand access to those who still lack coverage. I am open to supporting reforms introduced in the legislature that put people ahead of profit.

The time it takes rebuild our public school system will be measured in years. There is so much more work that needs to be done to get our children the education that they deserve — one that prepares them for good careers and is fully funded and accountable. I am in support of policies which protect and increase funding for our education system. With so much at stake, there is no room for cuts to our education.

Should Nevada raise its Renewable Portfolio Standard to 100 percent by 2050? If not, what should the state's RPS compliance standard be?

I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that Nevada is a leader in renewable energy, and I am open to looking at proposals that get us to 100 percent in the coming decades. Our first step should be to pass legislation in this session that meets the standards established by Question 6, a ballot measure which was overwhelmingly supported by Nevada voters.

Do you support modifying or eliminating current property tax caps in state law?

As Nevadans, we must stand together and adequately fund local services as well as fight against wasteful spending. I’m looking forward to learning more about property taxes and the reforms needed throughout this upcoming session.

Are there any particular issues on which you see yourself working across party lines? If so, which ones? If not, why not?

Health care and education reform are issues that shouldn’t be partisan. I believe my Republican colleagues are ready to get to work during this session and collaborate on bills that make life better for Nevadans. I’d also like to see bipartisan support for measures that help to lower the crime and recidivism rates in our state.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Updated 2-7-19 at 12 p.m. to include information about Duran's education. 

 

Assemblywoman Bea Duran

INDY FAST FACTS
Bea Duran

Office: Assemblywoman, District 11
Party: Democratic
In current office: 2018-present
Birth year: 1968
Job: Grievance specialist, Culinary Workers Union Local 226

Lawmakers, top officials continued raising campaign cash in two months post-election

Election night has come and gone, but Nevada’s elected officials continued to rake in campaign cash in the months preceding the 120-day legislative session.

Even state lawmakers and elected office-holders who won’t be back on the ballot for two more years at the earliest continued to bring in large campaign contributions in the last two months of 2018, according to campaign finance reports required to be filed with the secretary of state on Tuesday. The reports span Nov. 2 to Dec. 31.

Nevada lawmakers, the governor and the lieutenant governor are barred from receiving campaign contributions during the 120-day session and for 30 days prior to and after the session’s end. But because of how Nevada’s campaign finance reporting requirements are structured, the applicable reporting period only runs until Jan. 1, meaning any contributions brought in over the first four days of the new year won’t be reported until next year.

The “blackout” period means that Gov. Steve Sisolak — who has raised more than $1 million since the election — had to cease fundraising by Jan. 4. But the restriction does not apply to PACs, and the new governor also planned two inauguration events in January, with sponsorships costing up to $50,000.

In the two month period, Sisolak raised a total of $1.3 million and spent a little more than $1 million over the same time period. The Nevada Independent detailed those contributions here.

For a look at how much the state’s other top elected officials raised — including the attorney general, lieutenant governor and legislative leadership — as well as what contribution Nevada’s newly appointed lawmakers have raked in since taking office, read below.

Aaron Ford

Attorney General Aaron Ford reported raising nearly $160,000 in the last two months of the year, including $10,000 from the Cosmopolitan, $10,000 from philanthropists Daniel and Brianne Ziff, $5,000 from the American Resort Development Association, $5,000 from R&S Leasing, $5,000 from the Orleans Hotel & Casino, $5,000 from the Nevada Realtors PAC, $5,000 from Marnell Gaming, $5,000 from Republican consultant Pete Ernaut, $5,000 from the South Point Hotel and Casino and $5,000 from Cox Communications.

Ford spent $94,000 over that same time period, including contributing $18,400 to the Nevada State Democratic Party and other expenses related to staff, special events and consultants.

Kate Marshall

The new lieutenant governor reported raising more than $129,000 over the fundraising period, with the vast majority — $127,000 — raised in the period following the election.

Marshall, who defeated Republican candidate Michael Roberson in the November election, took large contributions from some of the state’s major gaming companies after the election, including $20,000 from two MGM Resort properties, $10,000 from the Las Vegas Sands, $6,000 from the Grand Sierra Resort, $5,000 from Wynn Resorts and $5,000 from Boyd Gaming.

Other large contributions included $10,000 from the Nevada Realtors PAC, $5,000 from the law firm of Eglet Prince, $5,000 from Burger King, $5,000 from Barrick and $5,000 from NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC.

She reported spending roughly $63,000 over the reporting period, primarily on payments to consultants and staff.

Legislative leadership

Democratic Speaker Jason Frierson raised a little more than $52,000 over the two-month reporting period, including $6,500 from the Associated General Contractors Build PAC, $5,000 each from title loan company Titlemax and the Orleans Hotel & Casino, $4,000 from the Palace Station Hotel & Casino and a pair of $3,000 donations from used car company Copart and insurance company Employers EIG.

He spent roughly $35,000 over the same period, including $11,856 paid to the Assembly Democratic Caucus for paid staff, advertising, special events and other contributions. He also contributed $5,000 each to two new members of his caucus, Rochelle Nguyen and Bea Duran.

Republican Assembly Leader Jim Wheeler reported raising a little more than $23,000 in November and December, including $5,000 from Farmers Employee Agent PAC and $2,000 each from the Nevada Realtors PAC, Tesla, the salvage car company COPART and Manufactured Home Community Owners.

He spent a little less than $27,000 over that same time period, including expenditures related to advertising, polling and special events.

Democratic state Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson reported raising more than $449,000 over all of 2018, including about $82,000 after the 2018 election.

Top post-election contributions to Atkinson included $5,000 from Barrick, $5,000 from Boyd Gaming, $5,000 from online vehicle auction provider COPART, $5,000 from Cox Communications, $5,000 from the International Union of Operating Engineers and $5,000 from R&S Investment Properties.
He reported spending $165,000 throughout the year, including some large contributions to other candidates and PACs, including $10,000 to the Nevada Senate Democrats.

Republican Senate Leader James Settelmeyer reported raising just over $37,000 in the post-election period, and more than $281,000 throughout the calendar year. Top contributors included $2,500 from the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, $2,500 from the Manufactured Home Community Owners, $2,500 form Farmers Insurance Employee and Agent PAC, $2,500 from Pfizer and $2,500 from Nevada Health PAC, affiliated with the Nevada Hospital Association.

He totaled nearly $50,000 in expenses over the reporting period, the bulk of which came via a $25,000 transfer to the Nevada Jobs Coalition, the PAC supporting Republican state Senate candidates.

Appointed lawmakers

Although they won’t be up on the ballot until 2020, several of the lawmakers appointed to fill vacant seats spent portions of the last two months raising funds ahead of the legislative session.

Freshman Bea Duran has raised $11,500 since being appointed to the Assembly on Dec. 18 to fill Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz’s seat.

Most of her contributions came from fellow Democratic lawmakers, including $5,000 from the Committee to Elect Jason Frierson, $1,000 from the Assembly Democratic Caucus, $1,000 from the Committee to Elect Tyrone Thompson and $1,000 from Friends for Lesley Cohen. She also received $1,000 from the Nevada Strong PAC, $1,000 from Citizens for Justice and $500 from the AFL-CIO.

She reported just $267 in spending during the same period, a single payment for a hotel room.

Rochelle Nguyen, appointed to fill the vacant Assembly seat of newly-appointed state Sen. Chris Brooks, raised $17,450 in the most recent filing period. Her top donors also largely include Democratic colleagues, including $5,000 from the Committee to Elect Jason Frierson, $2,000 each from the campaign of Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle and the law firm Maningo Law, and $1,000 each from the campaigns of Assembly Democrats Daniele Monroe-Moreno, Maggie Carlton, Teresa Benitez-Thompson, Steve Yeager, Tyrone Thompson and Lesley Cohen.

Nguyen also reported just over $950 in expenses, including an airplane flight, office supplies and $200 to herself in loan forgiveness.

New state Sen. Dallas Harris, appointed to fill the seat of Attorney General Aaron Ford, reported raising $38,250 over the reporting period. The largest chunks of her haul including $10,000 contributions from Atkinson’s Leadership PAC and fellow appointed state Sen. Chris Brook’s campaign account. She also received $5,000 from Citizens for Justice Trust, $5,000 from the Clark County Education Association, $1,000 from Dollar Loan Center and $250 from Advance America. She also received $1,000 from a PAC affiliated with Democratic state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse and another $1,000 from defeated state Senate candidate Julie Pazina’s campaign.

She reported spending only $466, including $36 on office expenses and $139 to herself for loan forgiveness.

Assemblyman Gregory Hafen, appointed to replace the deceased Dennis Hof, reported raising $1,000 over the reporting period, $500 from the Nevada Credit Union League and $500 from the Associated General Contractors PAC. He did not report any spending.

This story was updated at 8 AM on Wednesday with more reports.