Nevada State Legislature

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Nevada State Legislature

Seal of Nevada.png
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   3 terms (12 years)
2015 session start:   February 2, 2015
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Senate President:   Mark Hutchison (R)
House Speaker:  John Hambrick (R)
Majority Leader:   Michael Roberson (R) (Senate),
Paul Anderson (R) (Assembly)
Minority Leader:   Aaron Ford (D) (Senate),
Marilyn Kirkpatrick (D) (Assembly)
Members:  21 (Senate), 42 (Assembly)
Length of term:   4 years (Senate), 2 years (Assembly)
Authority:   Art 4, Nevada Constitution
Salary:   $146.29/day + per diem
Last Election:  November 4, 2014
11 seats (Senate)
42 seats (Assembly)
Next election:  November 8, 2016
12 seats (Senate)
42 seats (Assembly)
Redistricting:  Nevada Legislature has control
The Nevada State Legislature is the state legislature of Nevada. The Legislature is a bicameral body, consisting of the lower house Nevada Assembly, with 42 members, and the upper house Nevada State Senate, with 21 members.

The Legislature meets at the Nevada State Capital in Carson City.

As of May 2015, Nevada is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.

See also: Nevada House of Representatives, Nevada State Senate, Nevada Governor

Legislature defined by law

The Nevada Constitution sets the maximum size of the Legislature at 75 members, and provides that the Senate may not be less than one-third nor more than one-half the size of the Assembly. As of 2010, the number of members for both houses is 63, twelve members below the maximum size as stated in the state constitution.


When the Nevada Constitution was adopted, its fourth article established when the Legislature was to be in session. However, Section 29 of Article 4, the section that dealt with legislative sessions, was repealed by vote of the people in the 1958 general election. The session dates for the Nevada Legislature are no longer limited by the Nevada Constitution.


See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions

In 2015, the Legislature will be in session from February 2 through June 1 (Projected).

Major issues

Major issues in the 2015 legislative session include business licensing fees, construction defect reform, organized labor reform, education reform, Voter ID, legalizing recreational marijuana and economic development.[1]


See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the Legislature did not hold a regular session.


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from February 4 to June 3.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included taxes, state's tax structure, spending, medicare, and gun control.[2][3]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Legislature was not in regular session.


In 2011, the Legislature was in session from February 7 through June 6.[4]


In 2010, the Legislature was not in regular session. However, the Legislature did meet in 2010 for a special session, which lasted from February 23rd to March 1st.[5]

Role in state budget

See also: Nevada state budget and finances
Nevada on Horizontal-Policypedia logo-color.png
Check out Ballotpedia articles about policy in your state on:
BudgetsCivil libertiesEducationElectionsEnergyEnvironmentPensions

The state operates on an biennial budget cycle that starts July 1 of each biennium. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[6][7]

  1. Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in January.
  2. Agencies submit their requests to the governor in August.
  3. Agency hearings are held in September and December.
  4. The governor submits the budget to the Nevada State Legislature in January.
  5. The legislature passes a budget in May or June. A simply majority is needed to pass a budget.

In Nevada, the governor has no veto authority over the budget.[7]

The governor is required by statute to submit a balanced budget. In turn, the legislature is constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget.[7]

Cost-benefit analyses

See also: Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative Cost-Benefit Study
Map showing results of the Pew-MacArthur cost-benefit study.

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 indicating that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis, while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. The challenges states faced included a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Nevada was one of 11 states that made rare use of cost-benefit analyses in policy and budget processes.[8]

Ethics and transparency

Following the Money report

See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending.[9] According to the report, Nevada received a grade of D- and a numerical score of 52, indicating that Nevada was "lagging" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.[9]

Open States Transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Nevada was given a grade of B in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.[10]


The Nevada Senate is the upper house of the Nevada Legislature. The Senate consists of 21 members from 19 districts, two of which are multimember. Each member represents an average of 128,598 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[11] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 94,679.[12] Senators serve four-year terms. Term limits, limiting senators to three 4-year terms (12 years), takes effect in 2010. Seven senators will be termed out in 2010 and six in 2012.

Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 10
     Republican Party 11
Total 21

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Nevada State Senate from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Nevada State Senate.PNG


The Lieutenant Governor serves as the President of the Senate but only votes in the case of a tie. If the Lieutenant Governor is not present, 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 Nevada Assembly is the lower house of the Nevada Legislature. As in neighboring California, the lower house of the legislature is referred to as an "Assembly" rather than the more common "House of Representatives." The body consists of 42 members, elected to two-year terms from single-member districts. Each member represents an average of 64,299 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[11] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 47,339.[12] Term limits, limiting assemblymembers to six 2-year terms (12 years), takes effect in 2010. Ten members of the Assembly will be termed out in 2010.

Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 15
     Republican Party 27
Total 42

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Nevada State House of Representatives from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Nevada State House.PNG


The Assembly, like the Senate, is composed of citizen legislators, receiving a relatively small salary for the first 60 days of a session only. This tends to self-selection, with legislative service difficult for those without flexible jobs and/or large outside incomes, such as doctors and lawyers. The Assembly, again like the Senate, meets up to a maximum of 120 days, beginning the first Monday in February of every odd-numbered year. While this is designed to limit the amount of time a legislator is away from their first job, in recent years 120 days has not been enough to complete legislative business, requiring special sessions to be called to finish up legislative business.


The Speaker of the Assembly presides over the Assembly in the chief leadership position, controlling the flow of legislation and committee assignments. The Speaker is elected by the majority party caucus, followed by confirmation of the full Assembly on passage of a floor vote. Other Assembly leaders, such as the majority and minority leaders, are elected by their respective party caucuses according to each party's strength in the chamber.


Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Nevada
Partisan breakdown of the Nevada legislature from 1992-2013

Nevada State Senate: From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Nevada State Senate for the last six years while the Republicans were the majority for the first 16 years. Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

Nevada State House of Representatives: From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Nevada State House of Representatives for the last 20 years while the Republicans were never the majority. The Nevada State House of Representatives is one of 18 state Houses that was Democratic for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013.

Across the country, there were 577 Democratic and 483 Republican State Houses of Representatives from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Nevada, the Nevada State Senate and the Nevada House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Nevada state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

To read the full report on the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI) in PDF form, click here.

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Nevada state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. During the study, Nevada had one Democratic trifecta during 1992. The state's SQLI rankings were high for the majority of the study, finishing in the top-10 from 1996-1997 and from 2005-2006. However, Nevada's SQLI ranking declined from then on, finishing 46th in 2012. Both its highest and lowest rankings occurred when the government was divided between Democratic and Republican control.

Chart displaying the partisanship of the Nevada government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).


See also: Redistricting in Nevada

The Legislature handles the redistricting process through a Legislative Operations and Elections Committee in each chamber. The Governor wields veto power, and the Legislature cannot overturn.

2010 census

Nevada received its local Census data on February 24, 2011. At a 35.1 percent rate of growth, Nevada was the fastest growing state in the Union from 2000 to 2010. The five most populous cities showed tremendous growth: Las Vegas grew by 22.0 percent, Henderson grew by 47.0 percent, Reno grew by 24.8 percent, North Las Vegas grew by 87.9 percent, and Sparks grew by 36.1 percent.[13]

Democrats controlled the Legislature, while the Governor at the time, Brian Sandoval, was a Republican. Hispanics and (to a lesser extent) Asians emerged as possible communities of interest that would merit their own districts. The Legislature failed to finish new maps, and a court-appointed panel of three 'special masters' took over. New maps were finalized on December 8, 2011, and no legal challenges were made.[14]



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the legislature are paid $146.29/day for a maximum of 60 days. Legislators inside the 50-mile Capitol area receive the federal rate for per diem while those outside the area receive the HUD single-room rate for each month of session for housing.[15]

The Nevada Constitution specifies that the 63 members of the state Legislature are to be paid for the first 60 days of each regular session, held every other year in odd-numbered years. The pay for the 21 Senators and 42 members of the Assembly is tied to pay increases provided to state employees.

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Nevada legislators assume office the day after the election.

Powers and duties

Amending the constitution

See also: Amending state constitutions

The state legislature can launch amendments to the Nevada Constitution through the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment process. Section 1 of Article 16 governs how the legislature can begin the process of amending the state's constitution:

  • An amendment can be proposed in either chamber of the state legislature.
  • A majority of the members of both chambers must approve the proposed amendment.
  • After the next general election for members of the state legislature, the proposed amendment must be considered again, and again approved by a majority of the members of both chambers.
  • The state legislature can call a special election for the proposed amendment(s) if they wish.
  • The amendment is then put to a vote of the people. If "a majority of the electors qualified to vote for members of the Legislature voting thereon" vote in favor of it, the measure becomes part of the constitution unless it is precluded by Section 2 of Article 19.
  • If two amendments are proposed at the same election that contradict each other, the one that gets the most votes becomes part of the constitution.

Additionally, according to Section 2 of Article 16 if two-thirds of the Nevada State Legislature votes in favor, a question about whether to hold a constitutional convention goes on a statewide ballot. That election must be held at the same time as an election is being held for members of the state legislature (that is, a constitutional convention question can't go on a special election ballot). A majority vote -- but not a simple majority vote -- of the statewide electorate is required to generate a convention: "In determining what is a majority of the electors voting at such election, reference shall be had to the highest number of votes cast at such election for the candidates for any office or on any question."

See also

External links


  1. Las Vegas Review Journal, "Five (other) big issues for the 2015 Nevada Legislature," accessed February 2, 2015
  2. The Republic, "Nevada Legislature convenes Monday; taxes, guns, Medicaid will be big issues facing lawmakers," February 2, 2013(Dead Link)
  3., "Nev. Legislature convenes Monday with uncertainty," February 2, 2013
  4. National Conference of State Legislatures, "2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar," accessed June 6, 2014(Archived)
  5. National Conference of State Legislatures, "2010 Legislative Sessions Calendar," accessed June 6, 2014(Archived)
  6. National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  8. Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
  9. 9.0 9.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  10. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  11. 11.0 11.1, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1, "Census 2000 PHC-T-2. Ranking Tables for States: 1990 and 2000," accessed May 15, 2014
  13. U.S. Census Bureau, "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Nevada's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting," accessed August 4, 2014
  14. Nevada Legislature, "2011 Reapportionment and Redistricting Home," accessed August 20, 2012
  15., "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013