Mathews to co-chair Senate Finance Committee |

Mathews to co-chair Senate Finance Committee

Veteran Senator Bernice Mathews of Reno will be co-chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee when the 2009 Legislature convenes in June.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford of Las Vegas announced the Democratic chairs of the nine Senate committees Thursday saying he would co-chair finance with Mathews.

One of the reasons for that arrangement, he said, is that “we must end any real or perceived perceptions around the north-south issues.”

Mathews, the only northern Nevada Democrat left in the Senate, will wield the gavel, set the hearing schedule and agenda for the daily budget meetings. She has more than a decade of experience on the Senate’s budget committee and a long history of being able to work well with Republican members.

And, as Horsford is the first African American to be Senate Majority Leader, he and she are the first African Americans to chair the finance committee.

Sen. Bill Raggio had said last week Mathews should get the nod in Senate Finance. 

Bob Coffin of Las Vegas, the senior Democrat on Finance, will remain on the committee and will chair the Taxation Committee during the 2009 session. Terry Care of Las Vegas will be vice chairman.

Horsford said the committee schedule will change this session with Commerce and Labor moving to the afternoon from morning and Transportation moving to the morning. He said the transportation department will expand to include infrastructure and energy issues, reducing the load on what he described as a very busy Commerce and Labor Committee.

He said it will also bring greater focus to renewable energy issues, which are “going to be incredibly important to Nevada.”

“Nevada must become the nation’s leader on renewable energy,” he said.

Care will be the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He has been instrumental in helping Republican Chairman Mark Amodei of Carson City manage that committee for the past few sessions.

Transportation and Energy will be headed by Mike Schneider of Las Vegas with Maggie Carlton as vice chairwoman. The two switch roles on Commerce and Labor with Carlton in charge and Schneider as second in command.

Government Affairs will be chaired by John Lee of North Las Vegas. Care will be vice chairman.

Health and Education, formerly Human Services, will be chaired by Valerie Wiener with Joyce Woodhouse  as vice chair. Both are from Las Vegas.

Woodhouse, in her sophomore year, will chair Legislative Operations and Elections with Mathews as vice chairwoman.

Finally, David Parks, a freshman in the Senate but veteran from the Assembly, will chair Natural Resources with newcomer Allison Copening as vice chairwoman.

Raggio has not announced the GOP committee assignments for the 2009 session. He said Horsford’s decision to move Commerce to the afternoon and Transportation to the morning created some conflicts among his caucus’s existing assignments and he was still working things out.

– Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.