Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Legacy of Progress

Over time, we've seen so much change in this state. And over time, the Nevada Legislature has had to evolve with the citizens it's supposed to represent. Former Assembly Member Al Wittenberg (D-Reno) certainly was part of that change in the 1970s. He was only 31 when elected to the Nevada Assembly. He was part of then Governor Mike O'Callaghan's young troop of reformers. And he was a part of early efforts to modernize what we now call the Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

This morning, Al Wittenberg passed away. He had turned 70 just two weeks ago. He's survived by his children, Kenneth and Kelly... And by his current spouse, State Senator Joyce Woodhouse (D-Henderson).

When Senator Woodhouse had to rush home to be with her husband, rumors began flying of a changing balance of power in the State Senate. But thankfully, no last minute hijinks were pulled there. Instead, lawmakers in Carson City created their own last minute drama before quickly resolving it.

Just before the 77th session of the Nevada Legislature adjourned, it looked like much progress had been made. Matters like marriage equality, gun safety reform, immigrant rights, medical marijuana, mining tax reform, Lake Tahoe preservation, renewable energy, and homeowner's rights were tackled. And to many's surprise, progress prevailed. This session will be remembered for these achievements, and Senator Woodhouse will be remembered for playing a major role in many of them.

Yet this session, there were still some disappointments. Just as Senator Woodhouse had to rush home to be with her dying husband, the rest of the Legislature succumbed to another status quo budget as Governor Brian Sandoval (R) continues threatening to veto SB 221 gun safety reform. There's clearly still more work to do.

But without a doubt, both Al Wittenberg and Joyce Woodhouse have played major roles in moving Nevada forward. Mr. Wittenberg will be missed by many, but we all still have his legacy here in Nevada.

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