Nevada Senate inducts 2 former members into hall of fame

Updated May 2, 2017 - 5:04 pm

CARSON CITY — Lawmakers paused for reflection and tributes Tuesday as it inducted two former members into the Nevada Senate Hall of Fame.

Former Sen. Mike McGinness, a Fallon native, sat with his wife, Dee, and other family members on the Senate floor as colleagues praised him for his longtime service and open dialogue that made him many friends in the Legislature.

Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, said McGinness “took me under his wings and showed me the ropes” during his freshman session in 2011.

“Cool-hand Mike,” as Roberson described him, served 24 years in the Legislature. He was elected to the Assembly in 1988 and served two terms before being elected to the Senate in 1992. He was Republican minority leader in his last session in 2011.

The late Sen. Debbie Smith, a Sparks Democrat, grew up in Battle Mountain, where she was elected to the Lander County School board at age 22.

She was active in the Parent Teachers Association on the state and national level and was elected to the Assembly in 2000. She was re-elected in 2004 and served continuously until being elected to the Senate in 2012.

An advocate for education and the social services, Smith was diagnosed with a brain tumor just before the 2015 Legislature convened. She died last year at the age of 60.

“She exemplified the highest ideals of this institution,” said Democratic Majority Leader Aaron Ford of Las Vegas, who paused with emotion as he recalled his friend and colleague.

Smith’s husband, Greg, and daughter, Erin, attended Tuesday’s tribute.

Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks, who was elected to Smith’s seat after being urged to run by Smith’s family, said Smith taught her two valuable lessons.

One is to treat people with fairness and decency.

“The second lesson is, we are not guaranteed another day,” Ratti said. It’s a reminder, she said, to always make time for family and friends.

Photos of Smith and McGinness will hang on the wall along the Senate Hall of Fame outside the Senate chambers.

Contact Sandra Chereb at or 775-461-3821. Follow @SandraChereb on Twitter.

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