Nevada Senate
Nevada Legislature
Coat of arms or logo
Term limits
3 terms (12 years)
New session started
February 4, 2019
Stavros Anthony (R)
since January 2, 2023
President pro tempore
Mo Denis (D)
since November 9, 2016
Majority Leader
Nicole Cannizzaro (D)
since March 5, 2018
Minority Leader
James Settelmeyer (R)
since November 7, 2018
Nevada Senate 2022.svg
Political groups
  •   Democratic (13)


Length of term
4 years
AuthorityArticle 4, Constitution of Nevada
(first 60 days)
per diem
(entire session)
Last election
November 8, 2022
(11 seats)
Next election
November 5, 2024
(10 seats)
RedistrictingLegislative control
Meeting place
State Senate Chamber
Legislative Building, Carson City

The Nevada Senate is the upper house of the Nevada Legislature, the state legislature of U.S. state of Nevada, the lower house being the Nevada Assembly. It currently (2012–2021) consists of 21 members from single-member districts.[1] In the previous redistricting (2002–2011) there were 19 districts, two of which were multimember. Since 2012, there have been 21 districts, each formed by combining two neighboring state assembly districts. Each State Senator represented approximately 128,598 as of the 2010 United States Census. Article Four of the Constitution of Nevada sets that State 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 was 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 political questions, and thus are 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 sessions

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
79th Legislative Session, 2017 11 8 21
80th Legislative Session, 2019 13 8 21
Latest voting share 61.9% 38.1%

Current session

13 8
Democratic Republican
Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic Ind Republican Vacant
Begin 78th, February 2014 10 0 11 21 0
End 78th, November 2016
Begin 79th, February 2017 11 0 10 21 0
End 79th, November 2018 10 1 8 19 2
November 7, 2018[12] 13 0 8 21 0
December 4, 2018[13]
March 5, 2019[14] 12 20 1
March 15, 2019[15] 13 21 0
Latest voting share 61.9% 38.1%

Historical activity of political parties

Socialist Party of AmericaSilver PartyPeople's Party (United States)Republican PartyNational Union Party (United States)Democratic Party

Composition and leadership of the 80th 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 Leader of the Senate and Minority Leader, are elected by their respective party caucuses to head their parties in the chamber. The current President of the Senate is Nevada Lieutenant Governor Kate Marshall of the Democratic 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.[16] In August 2010, then Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford appointed David Byerman as the 41st Secretary of the Senate.[17] The day after the 2014 General Election, David Byerman was removed from his position and the previous Secretary, Claire J. Clift was re-appointed.[18] 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.

80th Session leadership


Position Name Party District Represented Area
President/Lt. Governor Kate Marshall Democratic N/A Statewide
President pro tempore Mo Denis Democratic District 2 Clark (part)

Majority leadership

Position Name Party District Represented Area
Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro Democratic District 6 Clark (part)
Assistant Majority Leader Julia Ratti Democratic District 13 Washoe (part)
Chief Majority Whip Joyce Woodhouse Democratic District 5 Clark (part)
Co-Majority Whip Pat Spearman Democratic District 1 Clark (part)
Co-Majority Whip Yvanna Cancela Democratic District 10 Clark (part)

Minority leadership

Position Name Party District Represented Area
Minority Leader James Settelmeyer Republican District 17 Churchill, Douglas, Lyon, Storey
Assistant Minority Leader Joe Hardy Republican District 12 Clark (Part)
Minority Co-Whip Heidi Gansert Republican District 15 Washoe (Part)
Minority Co-Whip Scott Hammond Republican District 18 Clark (Part)

Members of the 80th Senate

Districts of the Nevada Assembly are nested inside the Senate districts, two per Senate district. 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.[19]

District Assembly
Name Party Residence Assumed office Next election
1 1, 17 Pat Spearman Democratic North Las Vegas 2012 2024
2 11, 28 Mo Denis Democratic Las Vegas 2010 N/A3
3 3, 10 Chris Brooks Democratic Las Vegas 20182 2024
4 6, 7 Dina Neal Democratic Las Vegas 20192 2024
5 21, 29 Carrie Buck Republican Henderson 20201 2024
6 34, 37 Nicole Cannizzaro Democratic Las Vegas 2016 2024
7 18, 20 Roberta Lange Democratic Las Vegas 2020 2024
8 2, 5 Marilyn Dondero Loop Democratic Las Vegas 2018 2022
9 9, 35 Melanie Scheible Democratic Las Vegas 2018 2022
10 15, 16 Fabian Doñate Democratic Las Vegas 20212 2022
11 8, 42 Dallas Harris Democratic Las Vegas 20182 2024
12 19, 23 Joe Hardy Republican Boulder City 2010 N/A3
13 24, 30 Vacant[20] N/A N/A N/A 2022
14 31, 32 Ira Hansen Republican Sparks 2018 2022
15 25, 27 Heidi Gansert Republican Reno 2016 2024
16 26, 40 Don Tatro Republican Reno 2021 2022
17 38, 39 James Settelmeyer Republican Minden 2010 N/A3
18 4, 13 Scott Hammond Republican Las Vegas 2012 2024
19 33, 36 Pete Goicoechea Republican Eureka 2012 2024
20 22, 41 Keith Pickard Republican Las Vegas 2018 2022
21 12, 14 James Ohrenschall Democratic Las Vegas 2018 2022

Senate standing committees of the 80th Session

Committee Chair Vice Chair Ranking Member of the Minority Number of Members
Commerce and Labor Patricia Spearman Vacant Joseph P. Hardy 8
Education Mo Denis Joyce Woodhouse Scott Hammond 7
Finance Joyce Woodhouse David Parks James A. Settelmeyer 8
Government Affairs David Parks Melanie Scheible Pete Goicoechea 5
Growth and Infrastructure Yvanna Cancela Chris Brooks Joseph P. Hardy 8
Health and Human Services Julia Ratti Pat Spearman Joseph P. Hardy 5
Judiciary Nicole Cannizzaro Dallas Harris Scott T. Hammond 8
Legislative Operations and Elections James Ohrenschall Nicole Cannizzaro Heidi Seevers Gansert 5
Natural Resources Melanie Scheible Chris Brooks Pete Goicoechea 5
Revenue and Economic Development Marilyn Dondero Loop Julia Ratti Ben Kieckhefer 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.

Diversity in the Nevada Senate

See also: Diversity in the Nevada Legislature

African American senators

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

Senator Party District Term Notes
Joe Neal Jr. Democratic Clark No. 4 1972–2004 Retired
Bernice Mathews Democratic Washoe No. 1 1994–2010 Retired due to term limits
Maurice Washington Republican Washoe No. 2 1994–2010 Retired due to term limits
Steven Horsford Democratic Clark No. 4 2004–2012 Successfully ran for the Nevada's 4th congressional district served 2013–2015
Patricia Spearman Democratic District No. 1 2012–
Kelvin Atkinson Democratic District No. 4 2012–2019 Resigned due to campaign finance violations
Aaron D. Ford Democratic District No. 11 2012–2018
Dallas Harris Democratic District No. 11 2018–

Hispanic/Latino senators

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

Senator Party District Term Notes
Bob Coffin Democratic Clark No. 3 1986–2010 Term Limited
Successfully ran for Las Vegas City Council
Mo Denis Democratic District No. 2 2010–
Ruben Kihuen Democratic District No. 10 2010–2016 Elected to Serve Nevada's 4th congressional district in 2016; Term started 2017
Yvanna Cancela Democratic District No. 10 2016–2020 Appointed to Serve after the resignation of Ruben Kihuen; Resigned to join Joe Biden administration in 2021
Fabian Doñate Democratic District No. 10 2021- Appointed to Serve after the resignation of Yvanna Cancela

Women in the Senate

Since statehood, 37 women have served in the Nevada Senate, seven of them were originally appointed to fill a vacancy. Twenty-six out of the 34 have been Democrats, 11 have been Republicans, one was elected as a Republican but switched to Non-Partisan and chose to caucus with the Democrats.

Senator Party Area Represented/District Assembly Term Senate Term Notes
Frances Friedhoff Democratic Lyon County - 1935–1936 Appointed to fill vacancy caused by husband's resignation
Helen Herr Democratic Clark No. 3 1956–1960
1966–1976 First woman elected to the Nevada Senate
Margie Foote Democratic Washoe No. 2 1966–1974 1974–1978
Mary Gojack Democratic Washoe No. 1 1972–1974 1974–1978
Jean Ford Democratic Clark No. 3 1972–1976 1978–1982 Served in the Assembly as a Republican but elected to the Senate as a Democrat[21]
Sue Wagner Republican Washoe No. 3 1974–1980 1980–1990 Elected in 1990 to Lieutenant Governor of Nevada
Helen Foley Democratic Clark No. 3 1980–1982 1982–1986
Ann O'Connell Republican Clark No. 5 - 1984–2004
Dina Titus Democratic 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 Democratic 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 Democratic Washoe No. 1 - 1990–1994
Lori Lipman Brown Democratic 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 Sharron Angle
Kathy Augustine Republican Clark No. 7 1992–1994 1994–1998 Successfully ran for Nevada State Controller in 1998
Bernice Mathews Democratic 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 Democratic Clark No. 3 - 1996–2010 Term Limited
Maggie Carlton Democratic 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 2002–2014 Elected Secretary of State
Sandra Tiffany Republican Clark No. 5 1992–2002 2002–2006 Lost reelection to Joyce Woodhouse
Joyce Woodhouse Democratic Clark No. 5 - 2006–2010
Lost reelection in 2010 but successfully ran in a newly created district in 2012
Shirley Breeden Democratic Clark No. 5 - 2008–2012 Did not seek reelection
Allison Copening Democratic Clark No. 6 - 2008–2012 Did not seek reelection
Elizabeth Halseth Republican Clark No. 9 - 2010–2012 Resigned mid-term
Sheila Leslie Democratic Washoe No. 1 1998–2010 2010–2012 Resigned mid-term to challenge Greg Brower in 2012, subsequently lost
Patricia Spearman Democratic District 1 - 2012–
Debbie Smith Democratic District 13 2000–2002
2012–2016 Elected to fill the unexpired term of Sheila Leslie
Died in office
Patricia Farley Independent District 8 - 2014– In 2016, Patricia Farley switched her party affiliation from Republican to Non-Partisan and announced that she would caucus with the Democratic Party
Becky Harris Republican District 9 - 2014–2017 Resigned mid-term when appointed chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board
Julia Ratti Democratic District 13 - 2016–
Nicole Cannizzaro Democratic District 6 - 2016–
Heidi Gansert Republican District 15 2004–2010 2016–
Yvanna Cancela Democratic District 10 - 2016–
Marilyn Dondero Loop Democratic District 8 2008–2014 2018–
Melanie Scheible Democratic District 9 - 2018–
Dallas Harris Democratic District 11 - 2018– Appointed to fill the seat of Aaron Ford

LGBT senators

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

Senator Party Area Represented/District Assembly Term Senate Term Notes
David Parks Democratic 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 Democratic District 1 - 2012– Defeated sitting Senator John Lee in a Democratic Primary[22]
Kelvin Atkinson[23] Democratic District 4 2002–2012 2012–2019 Replaced Steven Horsford (D-NV) who ran for Congress in 2012
Melanie Scheible Democratic District 9 - 2018–
Dallas Harris Democratic District 11 - 2018–

Past composition of the Senate

Main article: Political party strength in Nevada

See also


  1. ^ "Nevada State Senate - 2011 Districts" (PDF). Legislative Counsel Bureau. January 6, 2012.
  2. ^ "Nevada Constitution". Legislative Counsel Bureau. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  3. ^ "Nevada Constitution". Legislative Counsel Bureau. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  4. ^ "Political History of Nevada" (PDF). Nevada State Printing Office. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 15, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  5. ^ "Political History of Nevada" (PDF). Nevada State Printing Office. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 15, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  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" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 15, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  9. ^ Sen. William Raggio (January 5, 2012). "Letter to Washoe County Commission" (PDF).[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Leslie Resigns State Senate Seat to Run in New District 15". Las Vegas Review Journal. February 15, 2012.
  11. ^ "Republican Halseth Resigning Senate Seat". Las Vegas Review Journal. February 17, 2012.
  12. ^ Election results. State legislators in Nevada assume office the day after the election.
  13. ^ Democrats Tick Segerblom (District 3) and Aaron D. Ford (District 11) resigned in order to take office as Clark County Commissioner and Attorney General of Nevada, respectively. The Clark County Commission selected Democrats Chris Brooks and Dallas Harris respectively to succeed them in the Senate. [1]
  14. ^ Democrat Kelvin Atkinson (District 4) resigned. [2]
  15. ^ Democrat Marcia Washington appointed to replace Atkinson. [3]
  16. ^ Sean Whaley (May 25, 2010). "In Surprise Move, State Senate Majority Leader Replaces Long-Time Top Staffer". Nevada News Bureau.
  17. ^ "Nevada Senate Majority Leader Picks Census Bureau Liaison to Serve in Top Administrative Post". Nevada News Bureau. August 18, 2010.
  18. ^ "Claire Clift to return as Senate Secretary". Nevada Appeal. November 8, 2014.
  19. ^ Redistricting in Nevada
  20. ^ Snyder, Riley (November 19, 2021). "Democrat Julia Ratti resigns from Sparks Senate seat; cites move". Retrieved March 7, 2022.
  21. ^ "Biography of Jean Ford". Women's Research Institute of Nevada. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  22. ^ Miller, Ross (June 12, 2012), Nevada Primary Election Results, Nevada Secretary of State, retrieved January 9, 2013
  23. ^ Sen. Kelvin Atkinson Comes Out During Marriage Debate, Queerty, April 23, 2013, retrieved April 24, 2013

Coordinates: 39°09′44″N 119°45′58″W / 39.162278°N 119.766136°W / 39.162278; -119.766136