Former state senator Lamb dead at 84

Former state Sen. Floyd Lamb takes time from chores on his ranch near Alamo to reflect on his life on Aug. 145, 1989.

Former state Sen. Floyd Lamb takes time from chores on his ranch near Alamo to reflect on his life on Aug. 145, 1989.

Floyd Lamb, the hot-tempered Lincoln County rancher who was one of the state's most powerful legislators before his downfall in an extortion scandal, died Sunday morning at age 84.

A Democrat, Lamb served 26 years in the Nevada Senate, many of them as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, from where he played a major role in development of the state budget.

He and then-senator, later controller Wilson McGowan were responsible for negotiations which, in the 1960s, resulted in state acquisition of Marlette Lake and thousands of acres of land between Carson City and Lake Tahoe.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said Lamb should be remembered for the good he did for education, state workers and rural Nevada.

Former Speaker Joe Dini, D-Yerington, described him as a great leader who had the state's best interests at heart.

Lamb was well known for being tight-fisted with state dollars. Even during the years Nevada was enjoying huge increases in revenue because of its booming economy, he began each legislative session by warning colleagues they needed to hold down spending. His committee won the nickname "the Gas House Gang" because it killed so many social proposals.

He was a member of a longtime Lincoln County family which dominated Southern Nevada politics for years.

While he ran the Senate Finance Committee, his brother Ralph served as Clark County sheriff for 18 years and his brother Darwin was on the county commission. Brother-in-law Wes Howery was on the Las Vegas City Council.

Lamb began in politics serving 10 years with the Lincoln County Commission until he won a state Senate seat in 1956. When reapportionment combined his district with part of Clark County, Lamb moved to Las Vegas and won the race to keep his seat.

He had a legendary temper, once kicking Assemblyman Norman "Ty" Hilbrecht in the seat after an argument in the legislative hallway and tackling Sen. Emerson Titlow in the lobby of a Reno hotel during a dispute. He knocked down Reno hotel owner Charlie Mapes in the bar of the Mapes Hotel and slapped and kicked an Associated Press reporter because of a story that angered him.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury in 1976 but was acquitted of income tax charges. He was convicted of attempted extortion in 1983 -- one of five Nevada public officials caught in an FBI sting -- for accepting $20,000 from an undercover agent in exchange for arranging a loan from the state Public Employees Retirement System.

Lamb served eight months of a three-year sentence before he was released because of his health. He had earlier suffered a heart attack that forced him to miss most of the 1981 Legislature.

His civil rights were restored in 1989 and he ran and won a seat on the Lincoln County Commission, but was then removed in a recall election.

He had been in the hospital several months before being released to return to his home.

His widow, Loretta, said a funeral has been tentatively set for Thursday at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas. Burial will be in Alamo where Lamb was born in 1917.


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