Election day in Nevada ushered in a blue wave to our state legislature. The State Assembly now has 27 Democrats and 15 Republicans.
The State Senate was even more narrow. Of the 21 members, 11 are now Democrats and 10 are Republicans.
Well, until a couple of days ago.
That’s when Patricia Farley, a Republican Senator elected in 2014, decided to become a registered non-partisan. And the moderate lawmaker decided to caucus with the Democrats.
Farley said she made the decision when she got her committee assignments for the legislative session, which is to begin in February. When she was asked to run in 2014, she made it clear that her children came first, and that while she could work late one or two days a week, she wanted most of her committee assignments to meet in the morning, so she could be with her daughters, whom the single mom brings to Carson City. But all of her assignments for 2017 were late afternoon.
When she called Senate GOP leader Michael Roberson to find out why, she says he never returned her calls. It's been reported in the past that Farley and Roberson butted heads in 2015.
Farley wouldn't speak directly to that.
"I think just overall politics, and the way the session seemed to be starting out, even though we're not there, I think it was better for me to move into a non-partisan role," she said.
Farley feels that because she worked across the aisle in 2015, she'll be able to work well with the Democrats in the Senate.
"The way I conducted myself and my relationships with the majority party, I would have been able to have good conversations and probably would have been able to move my bills along. I don't think I would have been hindered in a political process or a political game from that perspective," she said.
The focus of Farley's legislative agenda is child welfare, drug policy for youth, child tax credit for working families. She's also taken the lead in writing the policy surrounding legalized marijuana, which was just approved by voters.
"I think I have a very neutral agenda, but I think it's all really good, and it's really needed in the state of Nevada," Farley said.
But the Senator did express frustration at the possibility that her agenda might not have moved forward had she stayed Republican.
"I just spent a year and a half making sure I understood the issues," she said, "I knew who the players were. I can articulate it very well. I have my facts and my figures ready to go, and to waste a year and a half because of political back and forth is ridiculous. So, I'm going to take this chance and work with the people that I worked very well with last session, and that's on both sides, and try to get some stuff done for Nevada."
State Senator Patricia Farley
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