Illness will keep Nevada senator from end-of-session votes

CARSON CITY — State Sen. Joyce Woodhouse will not return to the Legislature today, the last day of the 2013 session, because she needs to help care for her critically ill husband, Al Wittenberg.

“Al is deteriorating rapidly, but is comfortable at home with his sister, daughter, and myself caring for him,” Woodhouse wrote in an email Sunday. “My priority now must be caring for my husband.”

Woodhouse left Carson City late Friday to return home to care for her husband, former Assemblyman Al Wittenberg, who represented Washoe County in the 1970s.

Because Democrats hold an 11-10 lead over Republicans, her absence could be critical. But State Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, said he is confident there will be no split votes in the final day of the session, as Democrats and Republicans have agreed on budget bills.

Woodhouse said she has been watching streaming video of the state Senate’s floor session and participated in caucus meetings and education work sessions via teleconference. She chairs the Education Committee. Saturday she emailed lawmakers to urge support for Senate Bill 500, which would create a task force to study education funding. The bill passed 19-0. Senators held a moment of silence to pray for her and her husband.

“We truly appreciate the calls, texts, and emails voicing thoughts, prayers, and support for Al and our families,” Woodhouse wrote in her email. “Thank you for understanding that this is a very difficult time for us.”

Contact reporter Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.