Edlen Electrical Exhibitions' Julie Pazina Sworn in as Nevada State Senator

February 16, 2023

Julie Pazina, national director of sales for Edlen Electrical Exhibition Services, was formally sworn in as Nevada State Senator on Feb. 6, the first day of the 82nd Session of the Nevada State Legislature. Representing District 12 in southeast Las Vegas, she will chair the Natural Resources Committee and serve on the Commerce and Labor and Growth and Infrastructure committees.

Pazina, who has worked at Edlen since 2006, served as president of the Las Vegas Hospitality Association, creating mentorships and internships for students. She brought speakers to high schools, UNLV and the College of Southern Nevada to showcase the hospitality industry and inform students on career opportunities.

After losing the 2018 race in District 20 by a small margin to Republican Keith Pickard, Pazina captured 52% of the vote in her 2022 campaign, defeating Republican Cherlyn Arrington. Pazina, the freshman Democrat, replaced Republican Joe Hardy, who term-limited out.

TSNN caught up with Pazina on her fifth day in office to find out what it’s like to serve and balance a position with Edlen. She shared the scoop on submitting her first bill and chairing her first Natural Resources Committee meeting as a freshman Senator.

Watch or listen to the full interview here or read excerpts below from our conversation that took place on Feb. 10.

Julie Pazina and Danica Tormohlem Interview
Senator Julie Pazina being interviewed by Danica Tormohlen

Tell us about the swearing in. What was the formal procedure like?  

We got to go into the Senate Chamber, which is always a unique experience. It’s amazing to walk into the chamber and feel like you're in a room where so many important things are being done…things that are so much more important than any one individual is a very awe-inspiring feeling. I was fortunate to have my family and friends come in as guests.

There's a lot of pageantry. All of us who were newly elected or reelected got to come to the front of the house and the Chief Justice swore us in as a group. There are 21 senators, and I believe seven of us actually were up there getting sworn in again. It was a really unique opportunity to feel like you were living civics. 

How do you balance working, doing this on the side and doing your other job as well?

It's definitely challenging. I am only working probably an hour or so in the evening for Edlen right now, just catching up on emails. When anything urgent comes up, my colleagues will text, which has happened a couple times. I am fortunate to have wonderful colleagues and a very understanding executive team who have allowed me to do this. I transitioned everything ahead of time before leaving and spoke to my clients so they're aware that I will be returning in June. 

When does the session end?

It's 120 days [long], so Feb. 6 through June 5. It's a hard stop at midnight. 

So you still keep your job at Edlen, but essentially you're working somewhere else for 120 days? 

Correct. It's a unique feature of Nevada in that we have citizen legislators. I think it's important to bring the perspective of so many different Nevadans into the State House and into legislation that we're looking at. Whereas in other states, it's a full-time role, so you're essentially a full-time legislator, or as some people would look at it, a full-time politician instead of a citizen legislator. So it's a different path in Nevada [and] I think it's more challenging in some ways because I've been saving up for a long time to even do this if I was fortunate enough to win. 

We get paid minimum wage for only 60 of the 120 days we serve, so it's challenging for those of us who take this on and do this. You have to really love being able to take part in this process and give back to the community and try to pass legislation that you feel will help your neighbors, because it's not an easy thing to leave home and leave your family behind. And our capital is a good seven-hour drive from where I live. 

Tell us how you will use your trade show industry experience in your new role.

One thing I'm excited about and really looking forward to is we've never had a tourism caucus before, so I'm going to be helping to head up and chair the very first tourism caucus in the legislature. The beauty of it being something new is that we can make it into what we want it to be.

I'm looking to get members of the industry involved and do a lot of outreach and see how we can get our constituents involved. It's so important because when legislation does come before the whole body, having an understanding of what it is that the tourism industry really does is helpful.

So when bills come before us that involve the industry, which inevitably happens, we have a voice that says, ‘Hey, let me explain this; this is how it really affects us.’ And now having a larger caucus, we can explain that to a lot of our members before they're looking to vote on legislation. 

The great thing is that we can agree, and we can agree to disagree, but at least we're able to bring that perspective of the industry into the legislature when bills are being voted on. 

Is there one industry-related piece of legislation or something that you're looking to champion for the industry at all?

Right now the bills that I've brought forward are things I've heard from my neighbors. I can tell you about one bill. It's not industry-related, but I'm excited about it. Yesterday was a really important and exciting day for me because I dropped off my very first bill. How the process works is you drop off your bill draft, which is then officially turned into a bill and referred to committee in assembly or a Senate chamber.

It’s a living organ donor bill. Nevada is one of just a few states where insurance companies can discriminate against organ donors' health and life insurance by saying either we'll raise your premium or we won't accept you entirely.

It's been shown — looking at medical records and looking at living organ donors — that the health challenges they face are the same as what I would face as not being a living organ donor. So they're not a higher risk, and it's really unfortunate that they can give the gift of life and have to pay for it by not being able to get coverage.

That's something someone here in the state brought to me, and I wanted to make a change. I was able to get sponsors from the leaders of both the Democratic and Republican chambers who have signed onto this bill.

When is your next session after June? 

We meet biannually, so every other year. It's a little different. Most state legislatures meet every year. When we're budgeting, we have to budget for two years at a time, which makes things a little more challenging. 

Do you have any advice for anybody in the industry who might be either considering public service or jumping in and advocating for the industry?

I would absolutely encourage anyone who's interested to reach out to me, as we can speak to their local elected officials, and I would look into local, state and federal opportunities, especially on a state level and on a local level. I served on the commission on tourism for Nevada, so I would look into opportunities on a local or state level as to boards or commissions they might be able to join, and I would look to local officials or state officials that they really like or respect and see if they can volunteer in their office and learn more.

Talk to Tommy Goodwin as the lobbyist for the industry because he can answer a lot of questions as well, and he's so knowledgeable. The Exhibitions and Conferences Alliance (ECA) does such a great job. Advocacy is one of the most important things we do. I hope anyone who's interested in looking to be a voice for our industry will take part in Legislative Action Day, whether virtually or in person.

To learn more about 2023 Legislative Action Day on June 1, go here.

Contact Julie Pazina at: julie.pazina@sen.state.nv.us

For more on Pazina, read: 

Freshman Orientation: State Sen. Julie Pazina started young in politics by The Nevada Independent

Pazina Eyes Keeping More Doctors in Nevada by the Las Vegas Review-Journal

Photo (Nevada Legislature left to right): Minority Leader Heidi Seevers Gansert, Supreme Court Chief Justice Lidia Stiglich, Nevada State Senator Julie Pazina, Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro and the Lieutenant Governor Stavros Anthony

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