Nevada LegislatureSocial Justice

Inside Grassroots Lobby Days in the Nevada Legislature

Progressive activists from across the Silver State descended upon the Nevada Legislature Sunday and Monday for Grassroots Lobby Days. What is Grassroots Lobby Days? And how does this event actually influence the Legislature’s “sausage-making process”?

I rode along with a group of activists from Las Vegas to Carson City to find out.

Late Saturday night, some 44 progressive activists boarded a bus in Las Vegas bound for Carson City to take part in Grassroots Lobby Days organized by the Nevada Women’s Lobby. They got as much sleep as they could as the bus drove through rural Nevada.

Sunday morning, they got directly to work.

 

Throughout the day, they got tips from the professionals on how to influence legislators and pass the bills they care about. Later on, several legislators stopped by to explain how the Legislature works and encourage activists to keep up their good work.

Senator Patricia Farley (NP-Summerlin South) explained why she’s passionate about her child care and education bills. Senator Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas) relived the SJR 2 ERA ratification bill moving through her committee. Assembly Member Olivia Diaz (D-North Las Vegas) shared the wisdom she’s gained since her freshman session in 2011. Additional legislators dropped by later for activists to speak with during dinner.

On Monday, the Grassroots Lobby Day crew got down to business inside the Legislative Building.

Upon entering, I noticed the ERA themed decorations outside. Inside, Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford (D-Spring Valley) gave the group a pep talk before Nevada Women’s Lobby organizers gave instructions for Senate and Assembly floor sessions.

I tagged along with a group of activists as they hit the morning committees. We first stopped at Senate Commerce, Labor, and Energy (CLE) for SB 232, Senator Tick Segerblom’s (D-Las Vegas) Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. There, activists joined in the conversation on why domestic workers (such as in-home care workers and personal housekeepers) deserve the same legal protections as most other workers.

Later on, we hopped over to Assembly Judiciary for AB 276, Assembly Member Ellen Spiegel’s (D-Henderson) bill to guarantee workers’ right to discuss their salaries. There, they witnessed an interesting display of bipartisanship as Assembly Member Jill Tolles (R-Reno) chimed in on the value of encouraging transparency in pay. Was this foreshadowing of what was to come?

Perhaps. The full Assembly passed SJR 2 28-14 hours later. Tolles was the one Republican to vote with all Assembly Democrats to pass ERA ratification.

“For my daughters and future generations…I stand in support.” – Assembly Member Jill Tolles

With feminist icon and Former Lt. Governor Sue Wagner (R) watching, the Assembly split along similar lines as the Senate to pass the HERstoric resolution. Once the Senate accept minor amendments from the Assembly later this week, the State of Nevada will officially be on record in favor of ratifying the ERA.

The ERA vote capped off a momentous Grassroots Lobby Days weekend for Nevada activists from across the state. We shall see if these activists continue their work in the days ahead. At least they can now say they’ve seen how the system works… And they know how to change it.

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