The most distinctive thing about this year’s crop of Nevada legislators is how Republican they are.
The conservative wave that swept through the country on Election Day turned the Nevada Senate to the GOP for the first time since 2007 and turned the Assembly to the GOP for the first time in more than 20 years.
Due to the Republican takeover and term limits, all chairmen of legislative committees will be leading a panel for the first time. Four committees will be led by freshmen legislators.
The new class is notable for a few other things, as well:
The number of women in legislative office has increased, rising from 18 in 2013 to 21 this legislative session. That’s exactly one-third of entire Legislature and the highest number of elected women since 2005.
There’s a wide range of ages among Nevada Assembly members. At 28, freshman Democrat Nelson Araujo is nearly 50 years younger than the Assembly’s most senior member, 75-year-old Harvey Munford. With an average age of 51, the lower house is a bit more youthful than the upper house, where the average age is 53.
A lot of newbies are making decisions. There are 17 first-timers in the Assembly after an election that swept six incumbents from their seats. In the Senate, three of the 21 lawmakers are new to the Legislature. One senator and two Assembly members were appointed to their positions, the most since 1968.
It’s the last go-around for two lawmakers. Democrat Marilyn Kirkpatrick is facing term limits in her Assembly seat, as is Democrat Munford.
Some are grateful to be here. Republican Assemblyman Randy Kirner won his seat by a mere 11 votes, while Republican Assemblyman John Moore upset much-better-funded incumbent Democrat Jason Frierson by 40 votes. On the flip side, 10 lawmakers ran unopposed.
If anyone collapses during a floor session, help isn’t far away. Two doctors have been elected, including Republican Assemblywoman Robin Titus and Republican Sen. Joe Hardy.
There are 10 attorneys in the Nevada Legislature this session.
Seven lawmakers are teachers, professors or retired educators.
When talk of a proposed business license fee increase crops up, expect the 10 legislators who describe themselves as business owners to chime in.
They may be leading Nevada, but less than a third of legislators were born in the Silver State. Nine say they were born in California, while five are from New York and four Utah. Democratic Sen. Ruben Kihuen, who is from Jalisco, Mexico, is the only one born out of the country.
Legislators from southern Nevada will control nearly all major leadership positions for the first time in state history, despite Las Vegas and its environs having nearly three-quarters of the state’s population. Committee leaderships are split between the north and south in both houses.