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Every two years for four months, 63 lawmakers travel from all corners of Nevada where they meet as members of a part-time, citizen Legislature. Most leave behind spouses, children, and careers, but bring a rich diversity of experiences — and, sometimes, conflicts — from back home.

Nevada is one of only four states with a Legislature that meets every other year; the other 46 have annual sessions. The benefit of a citizen legislature, at least in theory, is that lawmakers bring a variety of career and life experiences to the lawmaking process; unlike career politicians, they must live with the laws they create when they return.

The reality is more complicated. And then there are conflicts of interest. Doctors, for example, may bring a wealth of real-world knowledge to the table when it comes to crafting health-care policy, but also create laws that could directly benefit them in their line of work. In Nevada, the Legislature is often an entry-level job. Politicians typically get their start in the Legislature and later run for the Las Vegas City Council or the Clark County Commission, positions that represent a larger of constituents than does a state Assembly or Senate seat. While lawmakers typically disclose obvious conflicts of interest on legislation, they only sometimes abstain from voting.

Two Republican doctors, Sen. Joe Hardy and Assemblywoman Robin Titus, will again legislative health committees and deal with bills that will affect their day-to-day operations — such as ones regulating opioid prescriptions. There will also be less obvious potential conflicts. For instance, Republican state Sen. Ben Kieckhefer is director of client relations for the lobbying firm McDonald Carano, which is already slated to represent dozens of clients this session ranging from a water authority to two medicine boards.

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Some lawmakers will also continue to hold jobs in state and local government as they serve in the Legislature, something that has been a legal point of contention over the years. The Nevada Policy Research Institute, which has been outspoken on the topic, argues that all public employees are members of the executive branch and that also serving in the Legislature violates the separation of powers principle.

This session, more than a dozen lawmakers will work for state or local agencies or are retired public employees drawing government pensions. That group includes state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, a retired public educator. Bythe population was only a little more than 42, — most of it in Northern Nevada — and state government was a more limited affair.

Prior to World War II, it was overwhelmingly concentrated in the northern part of the state. Those from Elko and Pahrump face similar travel difficulties, and even the minute drive from Reno or Sparks can take its toll on Northern Nevada legislators, especially after long days or in bad weather. Some lawmakers choose to move their families up with them for the legislative session. After much research into schools and housing, Watkins brought up his wife and two daughters — then in 2nd grade and preschool — for the session.

The family approached it as an adventure, taking advantage of the weekends to visit historic Virginia City and San Francisco and learn to ski. But with his girls getting older and school demands growing, he realized the toll that all the moving would take on their academic performance. Other lawmakers shell out hundreds of dollars each weekend on flights home to Las Vegas, though doing so becomes increasingly difficult as the session progresses with committee hearings that stretch into the Seeking Pahrump Nevada arrangement springtime girl.

For lawmakers with kids at home, that may mean missing important milestones. Watkins said his situation was easier because he owns his own law firm. Farley said it was a struggle to balance her legislative duties with her responsibilities as both a single mom and a construction business owner. As she raced out of drawn-out afternoon committee hearings to pick up her daughters from school or fretted whether the babysitter could keep watching the girls when floor sessions dragged past midnight, she also had to make payroll.

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The financial arrangement is what has deterred former congressional candidate John Anzalone from seeking election to the Legislature. He would need to take an unpaid leave of absence from the school district to serve as a state lawmaker. There are also calendar-related challenges.

The session runs through early June, meaning Anzalone would miss a critical chunk of the academic year that includes springtime testing and high school graduation. People, they try.

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But it really affects who can do it. The difficulties associated with being a lawmaker contribute to the high turnover in the Legislature, a problem exacerbated when voters approved term limits in Since the limits kicked into effect in and capped service at 12 years in each house, Nevada has had between 15 to 21 freshman lawmakers each session. This year, there are 17 out of 63, or 27 percent. On the flip side, term limits have helped boost diversity within the Legislature.

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Nevada became the first state last year to have a female-majority Legislature and more than a third of lawmakers are people of color. But turnover has also decreased the institutional knowledge within the Legislature. Democratic state Sen. David Parks, who is beginning his 12th legislative session, is term-limited and cannot run for re-election to the Senate in Democratic Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, who he the budget committee, is on her 11th session — she ran for her current office after being term-limited in the Senate but will be term-limited in the Assembly after the election.

Although 17 lawmakers are just beginning their first terms, another 16 are only on their second. That lack of institutional knowledge among lawmakers gives veteran lobbyists and the executive branch an upper hand.

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Opponents say the biennial format keeps costs down, serves as a check on hasty decision-making and allows breathing room between sessions in which to study issues. A more palatable solution than an annual session might be changing the session to include working days, rather than calendar days, and splitting it into one day session and a shorter day session in the off year — as a proposed constitutional amendment recommended last year. Another suggestion is tying legislator pay to the median income for Nevadans in an effort to help recruit and maintain a diverse pool of lawmakers.

His proposal is having a day session in Las Vegas one year, and a or day session the next year in Carson City, where summer weather is far more bearable than in Southern Nevada. Events Swag Our Awards. Megan Messerly. Joyce Woodhouse on May 17,

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Public careers, private lives: Part-time lawmakers must navigate inevitable conflicts