R.I.P. Senator Debbie Smith

Rest in Peace and Strength, Senator Debbie Smith — Our thoughts and prayers, from Democrats all across Nevada, go out to Senator Smith’s family in their time of sorrow.


Smith was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2015. She had successful surgery to remove the tumor before returning for the final six weeks of the session.

A memorial service will be held Sunday in Sparks. ​The service will be at noon Sunday at the Sparks High School gym. Parking is available at the lot behind the school.  Child care will be provided at Sparks High during the service in a classroom adjacent to the gym for children who are diaper-trained.
Should attendees choose to wear a particular color in honor of Debbie, gray is the color representing brain cancer.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Smith’s name to the Dr. Marnie Rose Foundation, which supports brain tumor research. Donations can be made online at the following link: https://drmarnierosefoundation.racepartner.com/debbiesmith

Official Statements honoring Senator Smith:

Senator Harry Reid:

“Debbie Smith was the epitome of an ideal neighbor, friend and public servant. A believer in the good of government, Debbie’s advocacy for adequately funding our education system will be felt in Nevada for a long time. Northern Nevadans, no matter what party, had a fighter in the Legislature. Despite her difficult year, her positive outlook on life was admirable to all. She was my friend and I will miss her.”

NV Dems Chair Roberta Lange

“Debbie Smith was a giant in the Nevada Legislature who fought tirelessly for Washoe County and Nevada’s working families. No one knew the state budget more or fought harder for more education funding than Debbie. Last session, when she was courageously fighting cancer, Debbie still made sure to get to the legislature to vote for the historic increase in education funding. No one in this state cared more about improving education for our kids than Debbie. I am proud to have called her a friend. On behalf of every Democrat in Nevada, I extend my thoughts and prayers to her family.

Mayor Geno Martini

“Today is a sad day for the City of Sparks and the State of Nevada. Senator Smith was an effective and principled leader and a champion of education, as well as a number of important human causes throughout our state. She was also a champion for her City, and I was always grateful for her strong partnership and advocacy on behalf of the citizens of Sparks. She fought for our citizens every day. She was so brave and strong as she battled her illness publicly. Senator Smith is a great Nevadan who will be missed but will never be forgotten.”

“On behalf of the Sparks City Council and the citizens of Sparks, I offer my deepest condolences to Senator Smith’s husband Greg and their family. Our thoughts and prayers will remain with Debbie and her family for many days to come.”

Mayor Hillary Schieve

“I was incredibly saddened today to learn of the passing of Debbie Smith. A Nevada resident for most of her life, Debbie was one of our state’s strongest advocates for public education. Her work in the Nevada Assembly and Nevada Senate was marked not only by her dedication to bettering education policy, but also by her support of wildlife and conservation issues. I, along with my fellow Reno City Council Members, extend our sympathy to Debbie’s family and friends during this difficult time. She will be missed.”

Chair of the Board of Washoe County Commissioners, Kitty Jung:

“Debbie Smith was a champion for Washoe County and I was heartbroken to hear of her passing,” Jung (Dist. 3) said. “Her dedication and collaboration in the State Assembly and State Senate to supporting children, seniors and adults was exemplary. We were lucky to have someone of her caliber care so deeply about the people of Northern Nevada. On behalf of the Board of County Commissioners, we send our thoughts to her family during this very difficult time.”

Rep. Dina Titus

“Senator Debbie Smith was a dear friend, a valued colleague, and a genuinely good person. She always put Nevada’s children first and never sought any credit or personal attention. Her last fight was her toughest, but the angels will now be fortunate to have her on their team.”

Congressman Mark Amodei

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my dear friend, Senator Debbie Smith. Debbie was a respected colleague and I will always value our time serving together in the Nevada Assembly and Senate. As a dedicated public servant with a huge heart for children and families, Debbie fought tirelessly to ensure every child in Nevada received a great education. Nevada will undoubtedly benefit from her courageous leadership and unwavering devotion to her constituents and state. Her work has touched the lives of many and she will be sorely missed. I send my deepest condolences to her husband, Greg and their three children.”

Washoe County School District Superintendent Traci Davis

“Sen. Debbie Smith was an extraordinary champion for children,” said Superintendent Traci Davis. “She waged courageous, sometimes lonely, battles to improve education in our state. She was instrumental in improving education policy and safety measures in schools. She introduced and helped pass legislation to put epi-pens in every school, a measure which saved the lives of two of our students who suffered life-threatening allergic reactions within the first month after the devices were placed in our schools, and many more lives since. For years, she fought for increased classroom funding, capital funding to relieve overcrowding and repair older schools, and established family engagement as a priority for school districts across Nevada. In Carson City during the last session, she helped pass legislation to combat bullying and abuse. She fought the good fight, both in the public forum and in her final, personal battle against cancer. I will miss her leadership, her commitment, and her devotion to education. This is a profound and painful loss for all of us in the Washoe County School District, and for the children of Nevada.”

Washoe County School District Board President Angie Taylor

“I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of Sen. Debbie Smith. She was a fierce and selfless advocate for education and for our children, and the effects of her tireless dedication will be felt in this state for decades to come. Through her work with the Nevada State Senate, Nevada State Assembly, Education Alliance of Washoe County, Nevada PTA, and a host of other agencies, she established herself as a powerful defender and supporter of children, families, and public education. This is a tremendous loss for Nevada, but her legacy will live on through all of the lives she touched. I offer my condolences to her wonderful family and friends. It was a privilege and an honor to know her.”



Nevada’s Domestic Violence Survivors Are Counting on You

Judy Waxman

— by Judy Waxman

Vice President for Health & Reproductive Rights
National Women’s Law Center

For some women, the greatest threat to their lives could be the man she lives with. For women in Nevada, ranked first in the nation in domestic violence homicides, something as simple as getting out of their apartment rental agreement could mean the difference between life or death.

Nevada’s state lawmakers are considering a bill that would help survivors of domestic violence by giving them the ability to end their rental agreement after a domestic violence incident. But the pressure from lobbyists will make this a close vote. We need your help today — tell your state Senator to stand with domestic violence survivors and support AB 284.

In Nevada, a woman is more than twice as likely to be killed by a partner as the average American woman. Domestic violence survivors face many challenges but moving to safety or leaving their abuser shouldn’t be one of them.

This week, your state Senator will vote on a bill that can make it easier for women to leave her unsafe home. Tell them to stand up for survivors of domestic violence and support AB 284.

I just took action by telling my state Senator to stand with domestic violence survivors in Nevada and support AB 284, and I hope you will, too.

Nevada’s state lawmakers are considering a bill that would help survivors of domestic violence by giving them the ability to end their rental agreement after a domestic violence incident. But the pressure from lobbyists will make this a close vote.  Here’s a copy of my customized letter:

This bill will help survivors of domestic violence by giving them the ability to end their rental agreement after a domestic violence incident. Domestic violence survivors face many challenges; moving to safety or leaving their abuser shouldn’t be one of them.

As a survivor of domestic violence, I cannot tell you how important that is. I was in the Navy at the time.  My commanding officer was so concerned that my violent spouse, from whom I’d filed for divorce, would shoot up the communications center in an effort to get to me, that he helped me get a transfer to someplace where I was more likely to be safe from him … Iceland.  I also had a landlord at the time who was understanding of my situation and who waved the remaining lease requirements.  I was lucky, and I’m alive and well today because of those who helped me.  Many women aren’t.

Domestic violence isn’t something to be ignored. As of 2011, Nevada ranked first in the nation in domestic violence homicides. Requiring that law enforcement get involved in a domestic violence situation will not always ensure the safety of the woman. Many times, the survivor first needs to seek safety away from the abuser. Please ensure that the written statement from the third party qualified list remains included as a means to allow women to leave an unsafe situation. This list is primarily made up of licensed professionals such as a clergy member and will address the realities of domestic violence, specifically the high rate of domestic violence that occurs where law enforcement is not involved.

I urge you to stand with domestic violence survivors by voting YES on AB 284.

Please take the time to tell your state Senator to support AB 284 and make it easier for survivors of domestic violence to leave their abusers

Take Action

Have You Read SB192? You Should!

SB192, the  Nevada Preservation of Religious Freedom Act (NPRFA), is currently being considered by the Judiciary committee. NPRFA is a “statified” version of the federal RFRA (Religion Freedom Restoration Act), which was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1997 because it overstepped Congress’ power to enforce the 14th Amendment (City of Boerne v Flores).  If enacted, it would “prohibit governmental entities from substantially burdening the exercise of religion.”

It sounds like a good thing … right?  It claims to compliment religious liberties in the U.S. Constitution.  It even has bi-partisan support.  But, the bill is ill-defined and is a back-door means of promoting religious rights above all others and allowing religious zealots to use that elevated religious right to discriminate against others at will — and if they’re not permitted to do so, it gives them the right to sue the state for damages.  HELLO?  What are we seeking to create, the Nevadaban?

Religious freedom is being used insidiously by conservatives across the country as an excuse for Christians to be bigots against the LGBT community.  It’s also being used against women primarily in the form of denial to dispense birth control pills or “the morning after pill.”  A case in point is a bill (SB 514) just recently introduced in Tennessee which would “bar schools from disciplining students if they decline to treat clients with “goals, outcomes or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the student.”  It would allow graduate student counselors to reject helping suicidal LGBT students, students who are sexually active outside of marriage, and students who have been divorced.  Where did they get such a magnificent idea?  Michigan!  The egregious Tennessee bill would not only prevent counselors from being expelled or fired, it permits them to freely discriminate under the shield of religious freedom.

That’s exactly what Nevada’s SB192 would do … permit religious zealots to freely discriminate and deny good/services, all under the shield of religious freedom.  Today, the State has the ability to weigh compelling interests and arrive at accommodations.  If SB192 passes, that may no longer be the case as religious zealots begin their campaign of bullying to get their way, and if the bullying fails … expensive litigation (the ultimate form of bullying) to get their way will ensue.

Notwithstanding any provision of NRS 41.0305 to 41.039, 25 inclusive, but subject to the limitation on damages set forth in 26 NRS 41.035 when applicable, a person whose religious exercise has been substantially burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against the governmental entity.  The court shall award costs and attorney’s fees to a person who prevails in an action brought against a governmental entity pursuant to this section.

Freedom of and practice of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.  That concept is also generally recognized to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any religion. The freedom to leave or discontinue membership in a religion or religious group —in religious terms called “apostasy” — and IS a fundamental part of religious freedom.  Belief and non-belief are opposite sides of the same coin — and one’s belief should never trump another’s dis-belief.  I believe the first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says it all and it should be the final word on this subject, no SB192:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

and given that all 50 States have agreed to the full content of the U.S. Constitution and its amendments, that should should be enough.

Related Posts

NV Legislative Cmtee Meetings — 2013/03/06

8:00 AM – Joint Meeting of the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means and Senate Committee on Finance (Carson City/Las Vegas) Budget Hearings
8:00 AM – Assembly Committee on Judiciary Meeting (Carson City/Las Vegas)

  • A.B. 133 Prohibits the use of strip search or visual body cavity search on some juveniles and persons arrested for certain misdemeanor offenses, stipulates requirement for privacy and same-gender officer to conduct such searches, and requires written authorization from supervising officer on duty in cases where strip search or visual body cavity search is to be conducted.
  • A.B. 174 Requires child welfare services that have taken a child into protective custody to file a petition for protection within 10 days after the hearing on protective custody or recommend against further action or file a motion to determine whether it is in the best interest of the child to return the child to the person responsible for the welfare of the child pending further action by the court. This bill further provides for notice of the hearing to a parent or other person responsible for the welfare of the child.
8:00 AM – Assembly Committee on Government Affairs Meeting (Carson City/Las Vegas)

  • A.B. 103 Changes category of school police officers from category II to category I, giving them unrestricted duties and jurisdiction.
9:00 AM – Senate Judiciary Committee Meeting (Carson City/Las Vegas)

  • S.B. 75 Provides that a person who suffers injuries as a result of an addiction to a prescription drug may bring a civil action against: (1) the manufacturer of the prescription drug; and (2) the provider of medical care who prescribed the prescription drug, if the provider of medical care knew or should have known of the person’s addiction to the prescription drug.
  • S.B. 111 Requires a person who owns or controls the premises on which an injury or death allegedly occurred to produce copies, if any, of any visual evidence of the incident giving rise to a claim for personal injury or death when such visual evidence is requested in writing by a claimant or a claimant’s attorney except in certain circumstances.
  • S.B. 169 Revises criminal penalties for crimes that are gross misdemeanors and reduces the number of years a convicted individual may petition the court for the sealing of all records from seven to two.
1:30 PM – Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor (Carson City/Las Vegas)

  • A.B. 12 Removes the requirement that an employee notify his/her employer prior to filing a complaint with the Division of Industrial Relations of the Department of Business and Industry against employer.
  • A.B. 23 expands the definition of “provider of services” relating to the sale, installation and occupancy of manufactured homes to include any person who performs work pertinent to the sale, installation and occupancy of a manufactured home, regardless of whether the manufactured home is new or used.
  • A.B. 72 Adds a veterinary technician to the Nevada State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, increasing the membership of the Board from seven members to eight members and changing the quorum number from four to five.
  • A.B. 83 Limits same-day funding of escrow accounts to deposits made by certified check drawn from a financial institution authorized to do business in Nevada.
  • A.B. 153 Authorizes the licensing and operation of craft distilleries and sets fees for same.
  • A.B. 170 Changes the degree title of “advanced practice of nursing” to “advanced practice registered nurse,” pursuant to NRS 632.237.
1:30 PM – Assembly Committee on Health and Human Services Meeting (Carson City/Las Vegas) Overview of State of Nevada Food Security Plan

  • A.B. 126 Requires restaurants with 10 or more locations doing business within Nevada to disclose nutritional information about its menu items and provides a penalty for those who fail to make the required disclosure.
1:30 PM – Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor and Energy Meeting (Carson City/Las Vegas)

  • S.B. 126 Prohibits a pharmacy from dispensing a therapeutically equivalent drug (that is not the same as a biologically equivalent drug, aka “generic”) in place of a drug that is prescribed by a practitioner without first obtaining both the prescriber and the patient’s consent and provides penalties for same.
  • S.B. 196 Requires the landlord of a manufactured home park the duty to trim all the trees located within the park and to dispose of the trimmings from those trees at least once each calendar year absent voluntary assumption of that duty by a tenant.
  • S.B. 198 Provides that a chiropractor’s assistant may perform certain ancillary services under indirect supervision in certain circumstances; requires a chiropractic physician with one or more chiropractor’s assistants who perform services under indirect supervision to maintain liability insurance; and authorizes the Chiropractic Physicians’ Board of Nevada to adopt regulations governing employment and discipline of a  chiropractor’s assistant.
1:30 PM – Senate Committee on Government Affairs Meeting (Carson City/Las Vegas)

  • S.B. 144 Gives peace officers the right to review any administrative or investigative file before a hearing to investigate/interrogate charge(s) against him/her is conducted; may not be precluded from having a representative present; and may have two representatives present during any phase of an interview, interrogation or hearing related to the investigation.
  • S.B. 79 Repeals existing law authorizing an incorporated city from using net profits derived from municipal utilities owned and operated by certain incorporated cities for general municipal purposes.
2:00 PM – Nevada Youth Legislature meets (Carson City)
3:15 PM – Assembly Committee on Education Meeting (Carson City/Las Vegas)

  • A.B. 124 Provides that if a pupil violates the code of honor relating to cheating on three or more occasions while he or she is enrolled in a public high school in Nevada, the pupil shall not be eligible for the Kenny Guinn Millennium Scholarship.
  • A.B. 130 Changes definition of those the Board of Regents of the University of Nevada is required to pay for the educational fees and expenses of, to dependents of “public safety officers” killed in the line of duty.
3:30 PM – Senate Committee on Education Meeting (Carson City/Las Vegas)

  • S.B. 102 Changes the requirement that the Board of Trustees of the College Savings Plans of Nevada award one Kenny Guinn Millennium Scholarship per year to two scholarship awards: one for a student at UNR, Great Basin College or Sierra Nevada College and another to a student at UNLV or Nevada State College.
  • S.B. 58 Reverses existing limitations on distance education and allows students to enroll in distance education programs unless the pupil: (1) is not eligible for enrollment or the pupil’s enrollment is otherwise prohibited by specific statute; (2) fails to satisfy the conditions for enrollment established by the State Board of Education by regulation; or (3) fails to satisfy the requirements of the program itself.