Analysis: Which lawmakers were most likely to go against their party?
In an increasingly polarized Nevada Legislature, most votes in the Assembly or Senate went one of two ways — unanimous, or strict party-line vote.
But several votes saw a small group of lawmakers willing to buck the party line, according to an analysis by The Nevada Independent of all votes cast in the 2023 legislative session.
The analysis includes times when Republican lawmakers voted to back a measure that the majority of their caucus did not support, as well as Democratic legislators who opposed legislation that their party mostly backed. Democrats last session controlled a supermajority of the state Assembly and were one seat short of a supermajority in the Senate.
Of the nearly 15,000 votes by Republican lawmakers, 415 votes were in support of bills that the majority of their party opposed. Meanwhile, of the over 27,000 votes that Democrats cast this year, 266 votes were against bills that a majority of their party supported.
Below, we highlight how often individual lawmakers went against the party line and what measures they voted for or against. The analysis is based on datasets collected by Legiscan, a website that tracks legislative developments in Congress and across all 50 states.
Sen. Heidi Seevers Gansert: 47
The Senate minority leader went against her party the most times of any lawmaker this session. It’s the second session in a row where she ranked near the top of lawmakers bucking their party.
Seevers Gansert was the only Republican who supported three Democrat-backed bills: AB7, which makes it easier for health care providers to share patient health records; SB172, which was a priority bill for LGBTQ+ rights groups that allows minors to consent for preventative care and services related to sexually transmitted infections; and AB378, which made changes to collective bargaining provisions for state employees.
She also was one of two Republicans who backed SB131, which aims to protect out-of-state abortion seekers, and one of three Republicans supporting efforts to fund free school lunches (AB319) and provide gender-affirming care in state prisons (SB153).
Sen. Scott Hammond: 39
After Senate Republicans voted together to block a key government funding bill in the final hour of the regular legislative session, Hammond was the lone Senate Republican to break from his caucus and support the bill in a special session the next day. His vote secured the two-thirds Senate supermajority necessary to pass the measure — the Capital Improvement Program, which funds more than $1.4 billion in executive and legislative branch capital projects and reinstates a statewide property tax necessary to pay general obligation bonds issued by the state.
Hammond also was the only Republican to back two tenant protection bills. SB78, which Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo vetoed, would have prohibited tenant fee increases without advance notice and provided a grace period of at least three days before a landlord could charge late fees. SB143, which passed the Senate but died in the Assembly, would have forbid landlords from inquiring or performing background checks to see a tenant’s conviction or criminal record, with exceptions for violent or sexual crimes.
This session — the last for the termed-out senator from northwest Las Vegas — saw a sharp increase in times Hammond bucked his party. He voted against the party line just 14 times in the last legislative session.
Sen. Carrie Buck: 31
Buck joined Seevers Gansert as the only Republicans to support SB131, the protections for out-of-state abortion seeker bill.
She was also one of two Republicans to back AB437, which would have also limited the fees health care providers could charge for filling out forms that patients must submit to their employers to take a leave of absence under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. Lombardo vetoed the bill.
The first-term senator was also one of three Republicans to support SB153, the bill for gender-affirming care in state prisons.
Assemblyman Gregory Koenig: 31
While most of Koenig’s votes with Democrats came alongside several other Republicans, he was one of three GOP backers on two bills.
Bills that Koening supported included AB52, which amended parts of the Open Meeting Act, and AB224 (which Lombardo vetoed) would have granted employees at the Nevada System of Higher Education’s eight institutions to collectively bargain under existing public employee bargaining laws.
The freshman Republican, who represents rural parts of the state, also joined Democrats to support the creation of a “Bill of Rights” for people with disabilities (SB315) and a state-managed retirement program for private sector workers (SB305).
Sen. Pete Goicoechea: 30
Goicoechea, a termed-out senator who represents a massive rural district, was one of three Republicans to vote for AB319, which provided funding to expand free school lunches. Lombardo vetoed that bill.
He was also one of four Republicans to vote for SB429, which Lombardo also vetoed, that would have required certain businesses seeking state tax abatements to provide their employees with at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
Assemblyman Toby Yurek: 28
The freshman Republican from Henderson went against his nearly 30 times, including on a measure that requires gun dealers to provide a locking device on any sale or transfer, as well as on SB315, the disabilities bill of rights.
Yurek was also one of two GOP votes in support of AB201, a bill Lombardo vetoed that would have mandated the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee and make recommendations for improving the system for children’s behavioral health care.
Assemblywoman Heidi Kasama: 27
The second-term Las Vegas Republican broke party ranks far less often this legislative session, compared to the 52 times she bucked the GOP majority in 2021.
She joined Yurek as the only Republicans to back AB201, the behavioral health care bill. She also supported the disabilities bill of rights (SB315), locking devices for gun deals (SB294) and SB54, a bill requiring the secretary of state to publish an election procedures manual to ensure local election administrators follow the same set of procedures across the state.
Sen. Ira Hansen: 26
The Sparks Republican was the only GOP member to support three Democrat-backed bills.
He voted in favor of SB394, which would have capped the Governor’s Office of Economic Development’s authority to grant tax abatements worth more than $500,000. The bill died in an Assembly committee without a vote.
He also supported SB395, which Lombardo vetoed, that would have prohibited certain companies from purchasing more than 1,000 residential properties in a year. And he was the only GOP lawmaker to vote for SB296, which would have limited a peace officer’s ability to issue traffic citations. The bill did not get an Assembly vote.
Hansen was also one of two Republicans to back AJR5, a proposed constitutional amendment that would repeal the state’s 159-year-old ban on lotteries. The proposal now has to pass the Legislature again in 2025 and receive a majority of voter support in the 2026 general election to take effect.
Many of Hansen’s votes that bucked the party line came against Democratic bills, however, he and other staunchly conservative members of the Senate Republican Caucus often were the only two or three votes against a particular bill.
Sen. Lisa Krasner: 25
Krasner was one of three Republicans to support the bills on gender-affirming care in prisons and the free school lunch funding. She also was one of five Republican lawmakers to support SB450, which allocated millions of dollars to support and relocate members of the Windsor Park neighborhood, a blighted North Las Vegas community.
Krasner was also one of two Republicans to back AB160, a measure Lombardo vetoed that would have required the state to set up a process to track people who are eligible for automatic record sealing and submit requests for record sealing when applicable. She also was one of two GOP members to support AB193, a bill that prohibits a police officer from lying to a child during an interrogation.
REST OF GOP
No other Republican lawmaker voted against the majority of their party more than 25 times. Several Republicans joined Democrats on a host of bills, with 10 Republicans supporting the disability bill of rights (SB315), seven supporting the state-run retirement program for private sector employees (SB305) and seven supporting the bill requiring the creation of an election procedures manual for local election officials (SB54).
Republican Assembly members were less likely to buck the party line. The 14 GOP Assembly members on average went against a Republican majority around 13 times, while Republican senators toed the party line around 28 times on average.
Sen. Robin Titus (R-Wellington) was also the most likely legislator to vote against all other lawmakers. She was the only “no” vote on 15 bills this session, a dozen more than any other lawmaker.
While legislative Democrats were less likely to buck their party than Republicans, individual lawmakers cast 266 votes against measures that most Democrats backed.
Assemblywoman Shondra Summers-Armstrong (D-Las Vegas) voted against 28 bills supported by a majority of her party, the most of any Democrat. She opposed AB285 and AB330, school discipline bills that were a priority for Lombardo. Those bills had the backing of teachers and school districts, who said there was an uptick in school violence since the 2019 passage of a bill that loosened penalties for student violence in an effort to reduce the school-to-prison pipeline.
Summers-Armstrong was also one of three Democratic lawmakers to oppose SB412, Lombardo’s omnibus crime bill that was heavily amended and passed out on the final day of the session.
Democratic Assembly members were far more likely to toe the party line than Democratic senators. Assembly Democrats on average opposed around seven bills that the majority of their caucus backed, while Senate Democrats on average opposed four Democrat-backed bills. Five Democrats did not oppose any of those bills, including Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas).
Twelve Democrats opposed Sen. Marilyn Dondero Loop’s (D-Las Vegas) SB441, a Lombardo priority that axed pandemic-era requirements to clean hotel rooms daily. The politically powerful Culinary Union, a key backer of Democratic politicians, opposed the legislation, while major gaming companies backed the effort.
Nine Democrats opposed SB35, which will raise the penalties for fentanyl trafficking, over concerns that the bill includes excessive criminal penalties that could punish lower-level drug users. Seven Democrats also opposed SB239, which would have legalized physician-assisted suicide in the state. Lombardo vetoed that bill.
And two Democrats — Sens. Melanie Scheible (D-Las Vegas) and James Ohrenschall (D-Las Vegas) — opposed a Democrat-backed bill that would have criminalized fake elector schemes. Lombardo vetoed that bill, echoing concerns from the two Democratic senators that the penalties proposed in the bill, including four to 10 years imprisonment, were too severe for the crime.
Sean Golonka contributed to this report.