LAS VEGAS (FOX5) - The legislative session is two weeks away from ending. This year, Nevada made history with the first-ever female majority running the state.
“Bear in mind, that in the 2018 election, not only did Nevadans elect a female majority to the legislature, one district elected a dead man who owned a brothel,” UNLV Associate Professor Michael Green said. “That’s about as opposite as you can get.”
There are 23 women in the assembly and 10 in the senate, making up 52 percent of the legislature.
Experts said it’s thanks to those women, at least 15 bills have been passed or are at least still pending.
“Nevada, the state that a lot of people have long criticized for objecting women, for selling sex, is the first state in the United States to achieve this,” Green said.
“I would say there was a lot of celebration,” Republican Assemblywoman Jill Tolles said. “But then it was quickly, 'let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.'”
“If men in the building weren’t ready to work with women, they’d have to learn how to and I think that’s exactly what has happened,” democratic Assemblywoman Selena Torres said.
In less than four months, the women have already tackled a lot of big issues.
“Issues like abortion and reproductive rights, there are things coming up related to families,” Green said. “I think we’re seeing more of those bills and they’re getting further.”
“It’s not laser-focused on just one issue, and you’d be able to say that’s about women and families,” Sondra Cosgrove said. “You’re seeing it spread across, where the conversation about women and families is showing up across every committee now.”
Cosgrove is the president of League of Women Voters of Nevada.
Equal pay, discrimination and maternal rights are among issues some assemblywomen said they feel are finally getting a fair hearing.
“To see how far we’ve come today with sex trafficking, statute of limitations, sexual assaults, it’s pretty amazing to watch,” Tolles said.
Lawmakers added this goes beyond women’s issues.
“What’s exciting about the female majority is not that we’re going to pass more legislation that has to do about women,” Torres said. “But there will be more legislation where women are part of the discussion.”
Experts believe more women in office is also changing the conversation in Carson City.
“If men are saying I have to be careful of what I say, then men should have be more careful in the first place,” Green said. “Some of them are learning, it is no longer going to be a sex carnival in Carson City. In recent years, there’s been more attention to sexual harassment committed by male legislators.”
As lawmakers wrap up the final weeks of the session, they’re already looking ahead to the future of females in the legislature.
“We have many legislative interim committees,” Cosgrove said. “I want to see women chairing those committees because that’s often times where legislation starts.”
“It’s great to be the first, but I definitely hope we’re not the last,” Tolles said.