Nevada Senate

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Nevada Senate
Nevada Legislature
Term limits
3 terms (12 years)
New session started
February 2, 2015
Mark Hutchison (R)
Since January 05, 2015
Majority Leader of the Senate
Michael Roberson (R)
Since February 2, 2015
Assistant Majority Leader of the Senate
Ben Kieckhefer (R)
Since February 2, 2015
Minority Leader
Aaron D. Ford (D)
Since February 2, 2015
Seats 21
Senate diagram 2014 State of Nevada.svg
Political groups
Governing party

Opposition party

Length of term
4 years
Authority Article 4, Nevada Constitution
Salary $146.90/day (for the first 60 days)
per diem (for the entire session)
Last election
November 4, 2014
(11 seats)
Next election
November 8, 2016
(10 seats)
Redistricting Legislative Control
Meeting place
State Senate Chamber
Nevada State Capitol
Carson City, Nevada

The Nevada Senate is the upper house of the Nevada Legislature, the state legislature of U.S. state of Nevada. The Senate currently (2012-2021) consists of 21 members from 21 districts.[1] In the previous redistricting (2002-2011) there were 19 districts, two of which were multimember. Each senator represented approximately 128,598 as of the 2010 census. Article Four of The Nevada Constitution sets that Senators serve staggered four-year terms.[2] In addition, the size of the Senate is set to be no less than one-third and no greater than one-half of the size of the Assembly.[3] Term limits, limiting senators to three 4-year terms (12 years), took effect in 2010. Because of the change in Constitution, seven senators were termed out in 2010, four were termed out in 2012, and one is to be termed out in 2014. The Senate met at the Nevada State Capitol in Carson City until 1971, when a separate Legislative Building was constructed south of the Capitol. The Legislative Building was expanded in 1997 to its current appearance to accommodate the growing Legislature.


Boom and Bust Era 1861-1918

The first session of the Nevada Territorial Legislature was held in 1861. The Council was the precursor to the current Senate and the opposite chamber was called a House of Representatives which was later changed to be called the Assembly. There were nine members of the original Council in 1861 elected from districts as counties were not yet established.[4] Counties were established in the First Session of the Territorial Legislature and the size of the Council was increased to thirteen. From the first session of the Nevada Legislature once statehood was granted the size of the Senate ranged from eighteen members, in 1864, to a low of fifteen members from 1891 through 1899, and a high of twenty-five members from 1875 through 1879.[5]

Little Federalism Era 1919-1966

In 1919 the Senate started a practice called "Little Federalism," where each county received one member of the Nevada Senate regardless of population of said county. This set the Senate membership at seventeen which lasted until 1965-1967. The Supreme Court of the United States issued the opinion in Baker v. Carr in 1962 which found that the redistricting of state legislative districts are not a political questions, and thus is justiciable by the federal courts. In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court heard Reynolds v. Sims and struck down state senate inequality, basing their decision on the principle of "one person, one vote." With those two cases being decided on a national level, Nevada Assemblywoman Flora Dungan and Las Vegas resident Clare W. Woodbury, M.D. filed suit in 1965 with the Nevada District Court arguing that Nevada's Senate districts violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and lacked of fair representation and proportional districts. At the time, less than 8 percent of the population of the State of Nevada controlled more than 50 percent of the Senate. The District Court found that both the Senate and the Assembly apportionment laws were "invidiously discriminatory, being based upon no constitutionally valid policy.[6]" It was ordered that Governor Grant Sawyer call a Special Session to submit a constitutionally valid reapportionment plan.[7] The 11th Special Session lasted from October 25, 1965 through November 13, 1965 and a plan was adopted to increase the size of the Senate from 17 to 20.

Modern Era 1967-present

The first election after the judicial intervention and newly adopted apportionment law was 1966 and its subsequent legislature consisted of 40 members from the Assembly and 20 members from the Senate. Nine incumbent Senators from 1965 were not present in the legislature in 1967.[8] In the 1981 Legislative Session the size of the Senate was increased to twenty-one because of the population growth in Clark County. Following the 2008 election, Democrats took control of the Nevada Senate for the first time since 1991. In January 2011, Senator William Raggio resigned after 38 years of service.[9] On January 18, 2011 the Washoe County Commission selected former member of the Nevada Assembly and former United States Attorney Gregory Brower to fill the vacancy and remainder of the term of Senator William Raggio. After the 76th Session and the decennial redistricting the boundary changes and demographic profiles of the districts prompted a resignation of Senator Sheila Leslie, in February 2012, and she announced her intention to run against Sen. Greg Brower in 2012.[10] Later in February 2012, citing personal reasons, Senator Elizabeth Halseth resigned her suburban/rural Clark County seat.[11]

Legislative Session Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic Republican
62nd Legislative Session, 1967 11 9 20
63rd Legislative Session, 1969 11 9 20
56th Legislative Session, 1971 13 7 20
57th Legislative Session, 1973 14 6 20
58th Legislative Session, 1975 17 3 20
59th Legislative Session, 1977 17 3 20
60th Legislative Session, 1979 15 5 20
61st Legislative Session, 1981 15 5 20
62nd Legislative Session, 1983 17 4 21
63rd Legislative Session, 1985 13 8 21
64th Legislative Session, 1987 9 12 21
65th Legislative Session, 1989 8 13 21
66th Legislative Session, 1991 11 10 21
67th Legislative Session, 1993 10 11 21
68th Legislative Session, 1995 8 13 21
69th Legislative Session, 1997 9 12 21
70th Legislative Session, 1999 9 12 21
71st Legislative Session,2001 9 12 21
72nd Legislative Session, 2003 8 13 21
73rd Legislative Session, 2005 10 11 21
74th Legislative Session, 2007 10 11 21
75th Legislative Session, 2009 12 9 21
76th Legislative Session, 2011 11 10 21
77th Legislative Session, 2013 11 10 21
78th Legislative Session, 2015 10 11 21
Latest voting share 47.6% 52.4%

Historical Activity of Political Parties

† no Democrats served in the 1893 and 1899 Legislative Sessions

Composition and Leadership of the 78th Legislative session

Presiding over the Senate

The President of the Senate is the body's highest officer, although they only vote in the case of a tie, and only on procedural matters. Per Article 5, Section 17 of the Nevada Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor of Nevada serves as Senate President. In their absence, the President Pro Tempore presides and has the power to make commission and committee appointments. The President Pro Tempore is elected to the position by the majority party. The other partisan Senate leadership positions, such as the Majority and Minority leaders, are elected by their respective party caucuses to head their parties in the chamber. The current President of the Senate is Nevada Lieutenant Governor Mark Hutchison of the Republican Party.

Non-Member Officers

On the first day of a regular session, the Senate elects the non-member, nonpartisan administrative officers including the Secretary of the Senate and the Senate Sergeant at Arms. The Secretary of the Senate serves as the Parliamentarian and Chief Administrative Officer of the Senate and the Sergeant at Arms is chief of decorum and order for the Senate floor, galleries, and committee rooms. Claire J. Clift was originally appointed by then Republican Senate Majority Leader William Raggio. The Democratic Party took the Majority in 2008 and she was retained until 2010.[12] In August 2010, then Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford appointed David Byerman as the 41st Secretary of the Senate.[13] The day after the 2014 General Election, David Byerman was removed from his position and the previous Secretary, Claire J. Clift was re-appointed.[14] Retired Chief of Police, Robert G. Milby was chosen as the Senate Sergeant at Arms for the 78th Legislative by the Republican Majority Leader. Both of the elected non-member officers serve at the pleasure of the Senate, thus they have a two year term until the succeeding session. The Senate also approves by resolution the remainder of the nonpartisan Senate Session staff to work until the remainder of the 120 calendar day session.

78th Session Leadership

Position Name Party District
President/Lt. Governor Mark Hutchison Republican
President pro tempore Dr. Joe Hardy Republican Senate District 12
Majority Leader Michael Roberson Republican Senate District 20
Assistant Majority Leader Ben Kieckhefer Republican Senate District 16
Majority Co-Whip James Settlemeyer Republican Senate District 17
Majority Co-Whip Scott Hammond Republican Senate District 18
Minority Leader Aaron D. Ford Democratic Senate District 11
Assistant Minority Leader Debbie Smith Democratic Senate District 13
Minority Co-Whip Ruben Kihuen Democratic Senate District 10
Minority Co-Whip Kelvin Atkinson Democratic Senate District 4

Members of the 78th Senate

Name Party Residence District First Elected Next Election Year Term-limited‡‡ Seniority
Pat Spearman Dem North Las Vegas District 1 2012 2016 2024 18
Moises Denis Dem Las Vegas District 2 2010 2018 2022 4
Tick Segerblom Dem Las Vegas District 3 2012 2016 2024 15
Kelvin Atkinson Dem North Las Vegas District 4 2012 2016 2024 12
Joyce Woodhouse Dem Henderson District 5 2012‡[15] 2016 2020 11
Mark Lipparelli Rep Las Vegas District 6 2014[16] 2016 2028 21
David Parks Dem Las Vegas District 7 2008 2016 2020 1
Patricia Farley Rep Las Vegas District 8 2014 2018 2026 19
Becky Harris Rep Las Vegas District 9 2014 2018 2026 20
Ruben Kihuen Dem Las Vegas District 10 2010 2018 2022 5
Aaron D. Ford Dem Las Vegas District 11 2012 2016 2024 17
Joe Hardy Rep Boulder City District 12 2010 2018 2022 3
Debbie Smith Dem Sparks District 13 2012 2018 2026 14
Don Gustavson Rep Sparks District 14 2010 2018 2022 7
Greg Brower Rep Reno District 15 2011[17] 2016 2024 10
Ben Kieckhefer Rep Reno District 16 2010 2018 2022 8
James Settelmeyer Rep Minden District 17 2010 2018 2022 6
Scott Hammond Rep Las Vegas District 18 2012 2016 2024 16
Pete Goicoechea Rep Eureka District 19 2012 2016 2024 13
Michael Roberson Rep Las Vegas District 20 2010 2018 2022 9
Mark Manendo Dem Las Vegas District 21 2010 2018 2022 2

‡ Senator Woodhouse previously served from 2007-2011
‡‡Assumes that each Senator runs and wins re-election through their 12 years of Constitutional term limits

Senate Standing Committees

Committee Chair Vice Chair Ranking Member of the Minority Number of Members
Finance Ben Kieckhefer Michael Roberson David Parks 7
Commerce, Labor and Energy James Settelmeyer Patricia Farley Kelvin Atkinson 7
Education Becky Harris Scott Hammond Mo Denis 7
Government Affairs Pete Goicoechea Joe Hardy Kelvin Atkinson 5
Health and Human Services Joe Hardy Ben Kieckhefer Debbie Smith 5
Judiciary Greg Brower Becky Harris Aaron D. Ford 7
Legislative Operations and Elections Patricia Farley James Settelmeyer Kelvin D. Atkinson 5
Natural Resources Don Gustavson Pete Goicoechea Debbie Smith 5
Revenue and Economic Development Michael Roberson Greg Brower Aaron D. Ford 7
Transportation Scott Hammond Don Gustavson Mo Denis 5

Standing committees in the Senate have their jurisdiction set by the Senate Rules as adopted through Senate Resolution 1. To see an overview of the jurisdictions of standing committees in the Senate, see Standing Rules of the Senate, Section V, Rule 40.

Senate Districts and Nested Assembly Districts

The final Legislative redistricting plans as created by the Special Masters in 2011 and approved by District Court Judge James Todd Russell represent the first time since statehood Nevada's Assembly districts are wholly nested inside of a Senate district. Each Assembly district represents 1/42nd of Nevada's population and there are two Assembly districts per Senate district which represents 1/21st of Nevada's population. See the Ballotpedia article regarding the 2011 redistricting process for more information | "Redistricting in Nevada".

Senator Party District Assemblyperson Party District
Patricia Spearman Dem District 1 Marilyn Kirkpatrick Dem District 1
Tyrone Thompson Dem District 17
Moises Denis Dem District 2 Olivia Diaz Dem District 11
Edgar Flores Dem District 28
Tick Segerblom Dem District 3 Nelson Araujo Dem District 3
Shelly M. Shelton Rep District 10
Kelvin Atkinson Dem District 4 Harvey Munford Dem District 6
Dina Neal Dem District 7
Joyce Woodhouse Dem District 5 Derek W. Armstrong Rep District 21
Stephen Silberkraus Rep District 29
Mark Lipparelli Rep District 6 Victoria Seaman Rep District 34
Glenn E. Trowbridge Rep District 37
David Parks Dem District 7 Richard Carrillo Dem District 18
Ellen Spiegel Dem District 20
Patricia Farley Rep District 8 John Hambrick Rep District 2
Erv Nelson Rep District 5
Becky Harris Rep District 9 David Gardner Rep District 9
Brent A. Jones Rep District 35
Ruben Kihuen Dem District 10 Elliot T. Anderson Dem District 15
Heidi Swank Dem District 16
Aaron D. Ford Dem District 11 John Moore Rep District 8
Irene Bustamante Adams Dem District 42
Joe Hardy Rep District 12 Chris Edwards Rep District 19
Melissa Woodbury Rep District 23
Debbie Smith Dem District 13 Amber Joiner Dem District 24
Michael Sprinkle Dem District 30
Don Gustavson Rep District 14 Jill Dickman Rep District 31
Ira Hansen Rep District 32
Greg Brower Rep District 15 Pat Hickey Rep District 25
Teresa Benitez-Thompson Dem District 27
Ben Kieckhefer Rep District 16 Randy Kirner Rep District 26
Philip "PK" O'Neill Rep District 40
James Settelmeyer Rep District 17 Robin L. Titus Rep District 38
Jim Wheeler Rep District 39
Scott Hammond Rep District 18 Michele Fiore Rep District 4
Paul Anderson Rep District 13
Pete Goicoechea Rep District 19 John Ellison Rep District 33
James Oscarson Rep District 36
Michael Roberson Rep District 20 Lynn D. Stewart Rep District 22
Vicki Dooling Rep District 41
Mark Manendo Dem District 21 James Ohrenschall Dem District 12
Maggie Carlton Dem District 14

Diversity in the Nevada Senate

African American Senators

Nevada's State Senate has included seven self-reported African-American Senators.

Senator Party District Term Notes
Joe Neal Jr. Democrat Clark No. 4 1972-2004 Retired
Bernice Mathews Democrat Washoe No. 1 1994-2010 Retired
Term Limited
Maurice Washington Republican Washoe No. 2 1994-2010 Retired
Term Limited
Steven Horsford Democrat Clark No. 4 2004-2012 Successfully ran for the Nevada's 4th congressional district served 2013-2015
Patricia Spearman Democrat District No. 1 2012-
Kelvin Atkinson Democrat District No. 4 2012-
Aaron D. Ford Democrat District No. 11 2012-

Hispanic/Latino Senators

Nevada's State Senate has included three self-reported Hispanic/Latino Senators.

Senator Party District Term Notes
Bob Coffin Democrat Clark No. 3 1986-2010 Term Limited
Successfully ran for Las Vegas City Council
Mo Denis Democrat District No. 2 2010-
Ruben Kihuen Democrat District No. 10 2010-

Women in the Senate

Since statehood, there has been twenty-seven women elected to the Nevada Senate and four have been appointed to fill a vacancy. Eleven out of the thirty-one have been Republicans while twenty have been Democrats.

Senator Party Area Represented/District Assembly Term Senate Term Notes
Frances Friedhoff Democrat Lyon County - 1935-1936 Appointed to fill vacancy caused by husband's resignation
Helen Herr Democrat Clark No. 3 1956-1960
1966-1976 First woman elected to the Nevada Senate
Margie Foote Democrat Washoe No. 2 1966-1974 1974-1978
Mary Gojack Democrat Washoe No. 1 1972-1974 1974-1978
Jean Ford Democrat Clark No. 3 1972-1976 1978-1982 Served in the Assembly as a Republican but elected to the Senate as a Democrat[18]
Sue Wagner Republican Washoe No. 3 1974-1980 1980-1990 Elected in 1990 to Lieutenant Governor of Nevada
Helen Foley Democrat Clark No. 3 1980-1982 1982-1986
Ann O'Connell Republican Clark No. 5 - 1984-2004
Dina Titus Democrat Clark No. 7 - 1988-2008 Successfully ran for Nevada's 3rd congressional district in 2008
Successfully ran for Nevada's 1st congressional district in 2012
Peggy O'Neill Democrat Washoe No. 2 - 1989 - 1990 Appointed to the vacancy caused by the resignation of Don Mello
served in the 1989 Special Session only
Stephanie Tyler Republican Washoe No. 3 - 1990-1992 Appointed to the vacancy caused by Sue Wagner's election to Lt. Governor
Diana Glomb Democrat Washoe No. 1 - 1990-1994
Lori Lipman Brown Democrat Clark No. 7 - 1992-1994 Elected to fill the term of Nicholas Horn who died in office in 1992
Sue Lowden Republican Clark No. 3 - 1992-1996 lost reelection to Valerie Wiener in 1996
lost the 2010 GOP Senate Primary to Sharon Angle
Kathy Augustine Republican Clark No. 7 1992-1994 1994-1998 Successfully ran for Nevada State Controller in 1998
Bernice Mathews Democrat Washoe No. 1 - 1994-2010 First woman of color elected to the Nevada Senate
First woman of color elected to the Reno City Council in 1990
Valerie Wiener Democrat Clark No. 3 - 1996-2010 Term Limited
Maggie Carlton Democrat Clark No. 2 2010- 1998-2010 Term Limited in the Senate
ran successfully for the Nevada Assembly
Christine Milburn Republican Clark No. 8 - 7/2002 - 11/2002 Appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Mark James
served in the 2002 Special Session only
Barbara Cegavske Republican Clark No. 8 1996-2002 2002-
Sandra Tiffany Republican Clark No. 5 1992-2002 2002-2006 Lost reelection to Joyce Woodhouse
Joyce Woodhouse Democrat Clark No. 5 - 2006-2010
Lost reelection in 2010 but successfully ran in a newly created district in 2012
Shirley Breeden Democrat Clark No. 5 - 2008-2012 Did not seek reelection
Allison Copening Democrat Clark No. 6 - 2008-2012 Did not seek reelection
Elizabeth Halseth Republican Clark No. 9 - 2010-2012 Resigned mid-term
Sheila Leslie Democrat Washoe No. 1 1998-2010 2010-2012 Resigned mid-term to challenge Greg Brower in 2012, subsequently lost
Patricia Spearman Democrat District 1 - 2012-
Debbie Smith Democrat District 13 2000-2002
2012- Elected to fill the unexpired term of Sheila Leslie
Patricia Farley Republican District 8 - 2014-
Becky Harris Republican District 9 - 2014-

LGBT Senators

Nevada's State Senate has included three out LGBT Senators.

Senator Party Area Represented/District Assembly Term Senate Term Notes
David Parks Democrat District 7 1996-2008 2008- Term Limited in the Assembly
Successfully ran for Senate in 2008
Lost a Primary Election to succeed Rory Reid on the Clark County Commission in 2010, remained in the Senate
Patricia Spearman Democrat District 1 - 2012- Defeated sitting Senator John Lee in a Democratic Primary[19]
Kelvin Atkinson[20] Democrat District 4 2002-2012 2012- Replaced Steven Horsford (D, NV4) who ran for Congress in 2012

See also


  1. "Nevada State Senate - 2011 Districts" (PDF). Legislative Counsel Bureau. January 6, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Nevada Constitution". Legislative Counsel Bureau. Retrieved January 1, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Nevada Constitution". Legislative Counsel Bureau. Retrieved January 1, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Political History of Nevada" (PDF). Nevada State Printing Office. 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Political History of Nevada" (PDF). Nevada State Printing Office. 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Dungan v. Sawyer, 250 F.Supp. 480 (1965)
  7. Dungan v. Sawyer, 250 F.Supp. 480 (1965)
  8. Political History of Nevada, Pages 284-286
  9. Sen. William Raggio (January 5, 2012). "Letter to Washoe County Commission" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Leslie Resigns State Senate Seat to Run in New District 15". Las Vegas Review Journal. February 15, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Republican Halseth Resigning Senate Seat". Las Vegas Review Journal. February 17, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Sean Whaley (May 25, 2010). "In Surprise Move, State Senate Majority Leader Replaces Long-Time Top Staffer". Nevada News Bureau.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Nevada Senate Majority Leader Picks Census Bureau Liaison to Serve in Top Administrative Post". Nevada News Bureau. August 18, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Claire Clift to return as Senate Secretary". Nevada Appeal. November 8, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Many New Faces in Nevada Legislature for 2013". Nevada News Bureau. November 7, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Was appointed to fill the remainder of the term of Mark Hutchison
  17. Was appointed to fill the remainder of the term of Bill Raggio
  18. "Biography of Jean Ford". Women's Research Institute of Nevada. Retrieved January 1, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Miller, Ross (June 12, 2012), Nevada Primary Election Results, Nevada Secretary of State, retrieved January 9, 2013<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Sen. Kelvin Atkinson Comes Out During Marriage Debate, Queerty, April 23, 2013, retrieved April 24, 2013<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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