When the Nevada Legislature begins its new session in February, there will be lot of new faces.
Term limits and a strong showing by Democrats in the election mean 17 of the 63 seats in the Assembly and Senate will be held by first-term lawmakers.
Helping the rookies get acquainted to life in Carson City is a series of orientation sessions, where they learn everything from where the bathrooms are in the Capitol to how to navigate the state budget process.
Democratic Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno told KNPR's State of Nevada that her work with the Democratic Party allowed her to go to Carson City several times so she was familiar with much of the process.
Republican Assemblyman Jill Tolles from Reno had also done some lobbying at the Legislature before she was elected and so she was also familiar with how it worked.
But after the session with long-time legislators, Tolles said the message of bi-partisanship was loud and clear.
"We had panels with the incumbents and they really stressed the importance of working together in that building for the sake of Nevada,” she said.
Tolles said they were told to respect the people and the process, even if they differed on position.
Monroe-Moreno agreed that working across the aisle will be part of her agenda as well. She said that really the issues facing the state are "Nevada family issues," not Democrat or Republican issues.
She would like to focus on criminal justice reform, improving mental health care and doing more for education.
Tolles said education, both K through 12 and higher education, was important to her as well. She also wants to do more for Nevada's small businesses.
Both lawmakers said they felt like the freshman class is ready to work together no matter their party affiliation.
“It was already from the get go a very collegial group, " Tolles said, "We really did immediately start making connections and I think that is going to serve us well. I’m excited and enthusiastic about that.”
“During our first time together in Carson City, there was a comradery that we had coming in as a freshman class,” Monroe-Moreno said.
Along with encouragement to be bipartisan in their efforts, they also were warned about the “freshman 15,” the unwanted weight gain that frequently afflicts those getting used to the food-fueled and sedentary life of a lawmaker.
“I think the big thing that surprised me was the freshman 15 that was talked about often,” Monroe-Moreno said.
Daniele Monroe-Moreno, Democratic assemblywoman, North Las Vegas; Jill Tolles, GOP assemblywoman, Reno
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