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Nevada Has 1st Female-Majority Gov't   12/19 06:26

   LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Nevada became the first state in the U.S. with an overall 
female majority in the Legislature on Tuesday when county officials in Las 
Vegas appointed two women to fill vacancies in the state Assembly.

   The appointments of Democrats Rochelle Thuy Nguyen and Beatrice "Bea" Angela 
Duran to two Las Vegas-area legislative seats give women 51 percent of the 63 
seats in the Legislature.

   Women will hold nine of 21 seats in the state Senate, falling short of a 
majority in that chamber. But they will hold 23 of 42 seats in the Assembly, 
comprising 55 percent in that chamber and giving women enough numbers to make 
the two chambers an overall female majority.

   No state has previously had a female-majority or even a 50 percent-female 
Legislature, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers 
University, which tracks women's political representation.

   Women picked up seats in the Nevada Assembly and Senate during the 2018 
November election but fell short of an overall majority. Vacancies created by 
lawmakers who won election to other offices in November, along with one sitting 
female lawmaker then allowed women to gain additional seats.

   Before 2018, New Hampshire was the first state to have a female majority in 
any legislative chamber, when women held a majority in the New Hampshire state 
Senate in 2009 and 2010.

   With the 2018 election, women cracked the 50 percent threshold in the Nevada 
state Assembly and Colorado State House, but no overall majority was reached 
until the Nevada appointments.

   "It is unprecedented at this point to see a majority female legislature 
overall," said Kelly Dittmar, an assistant professor of political science at 
Rutgers-Camden.

   With the two Nevada appointments, women will make up 28.6 percent of state 
legislators nationwide when new legislators are sworn into office in 2019, 
according to data from the Center for American Women and Politics.

   Women made up 24.3 percent of state legislators in the U.S. a decade ago, 
the center said.

   Studies of women who have served in Congress are probably comparable to 
female gains in state legislatures, she said, and the studies have found that 
"the more women you have in the body, the more that their perspectives and life 
experiences are integrated into policy debates and deliberations."

   Dittmar said the milestone in Nevada could help change attitudes of what a 
state Legislature should like.

   "That might influence young people. It might influence other women to see 
that body as both friendlier to them as well as more responsive to their 
concerns," she said.

   Nguyen, an attorney, and Duran, a grievance specialist with the state's 
casino workers union, will hold their seats until the next general election in 
2020.

   "It's a great victory," Duran told The Associated Press in a telephone 
interview. "Women are proving to have more knowledge and aren't afraid to show 
that power that they have."

   Duran has been a staff member since 1999 at the powerful Culinary Workers 
Union Local 226, a key political organization in the state.

   Nguyen, a criminal defense lawyer, said called the milestone "fantastic."

   "When women do better, I think families are stronger," Nguyen said.

   "It's high time that they be at the table," Speaker of the Assembly Jason 
Frierson told the AP. "This is a reflection of a trend of making sure that that 
voice is heard."


(KA)

 
 
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