Assembly speaker highlights Churchill Democrats dinner

Steve Yeager, speaker of the Nevada Assembly, was keynote speaker at the May 10 Churchill County Democrats Sawyer-Bryan Dinner.

Steve Yeager, speaker of the Nevada Assembly, was keynote speaker at the May 10 Churchill County Democrats Sawyer-Bryan Dinner.
Photo by Steve Ranson.

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The speaker of the Nevada Assembly headlined this year’s Churchill County Democrats Sawyer-Bryan Dinner on May 10 at the Fallon Convention Center.

Steve Yeager reviewed the 2023 Assembly bills and what to expect for the upcoming session which begins in February 2025 in Carson City. He has been the speaker of the Nevada Assembly since 2022. Since 2016, Yeager has represented the 9th district which covers parts of the southwestern Las Vegas Valley.

Yeager acknowledged the strong Republican presence in Churchill County. He said the last time a Democratic president won in Churchill County occurred in 1940 when Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Wendell Wilke.

Yeager touted the makeup of the current Legislature when he said Nevada was the only state in the country with a female majority.

“Women know how to get things done,” Yeager said.

Yeager also commended Greg Koenig, District 38’s Republican assemblyman from Fallon. Although Yeager and Koenig disagreed on a number of issues, they also worked together to pass other legislation.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” Yeager said of the first-term lawmaker.

Yeager said the 2023 Assembly and Senate passed landmark legislation which included increased funding for public schools and salary increases for education and support staff. He added the Legislature passed funding to ensure state jobs were more competitive with local government and the private sector.

Yeager, though, said he was disappointed Gov. Joe Lombardo, a first-term Republican, vetoed 75 bills in one session opposed to former Gov. Brian Sandoval, who vetoed 97 votes during four legislative sessions. Yeager said Lombardo vetoed bills dealing with education to restrictions on rent increases.

The annual Sawyer-Bryan Dinner was named after two former governors, Richard Bryan and the late Grant Sawyer. Jeanette Strong, the organization’s secretary and a weekly columnist for the Lahontan Valley News, presented an overview on the dinner’s history and highlighted the name change several years ago to reflect the legacy of two former governors.

Grant Sawyer served two terms as the Silver State’s governor from 1959 to 1967. Sawyer lost a bid for a third term in 1966. He also served as district attorney for Elko County from 1950 to 1958.

Sawyer enlisted in the U.S. Army at the beginning of World War II, and after the war, he enrolled at Georgetown University, where he received a law degree in 1946.

Bryan, a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, was an attorney general and then governor from 1982-88 after defeating incumbent Robert List. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1988 and served for two terms. Bryan also served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve. He earned a law degree from the University of California, Hasting College of Law.

Strong said Bryan attended the University of Nevada at the same time of several Fallon students, who have remained close over the year.

“His first roommate was from Fallon,” Strong said. She then read a letter from Bryan who was unable to attend.

“Don Travis (former Fallon educator) was student body president, and appointed me chairman of the Homecoming Committee, which was the crown jewel of appointments. That enabled me to student body president at the university,” Bryan said.

Strong said Bryan never lost an election and he attended the Fallon Labor Day parade and pancake breakfast for 22 consecutive years.


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