Bob Price 1936-2019
State legislator Bob Price was never involved with the #MeToo movement, but many years ago he heard that a University of Nevada, Reno legislative intern had been dismissed by her legislator when she rejected his advances and was in danger of being dropped from the entire intern program. Price said he would take on the young woman as a second intern. They had a good working relationship, and she passed the intern course. It was one of many instances of his championing women.
When Dawn Gibbons took her military pilot husband’s place in the Assembly during the Kuwait war, Price was helpful to her in learning the ropes.
In 1978, many assemblymembers believed the Equal Rights Amendment, providing for gender equality, was bottled up in the Senate and they would never have to vote on it. So some of them promised their votes to both sides. Then it passed the Senate, causing consternation. Members who had voted for ERA in earlier sessions changed their votes under heavy lobbyist pressure. Price ended his remarks before the vote, “I want to implore you, my fellow colleagues, even beg that just this one time, today, right now, when we vote on this issue, I beg you to vote from your heart … and to rise above all other pressures.” It moved many but did not change enough votes. ERA was defeated.
First elected to the Nevada Assembly as a member of the “Watergate Class of 1974,” Price joined a group of young reformers swept into office that year. He eventually became chair of the Assembly Taxation Committee, where he almost single-handedly stopped sales tax hikes from bring enacted.
No sales tax increase got through the legislature until 1997 when Speaker Joe Dini created a new Infrastructure Committee with Price’s colleague David Goldwater as chair and diverted sales tax measures to it. That committee approved sales tax hikes in Clark and Washoe counties for a Southern Nevada pipeline and for the casinos’ railroad trench in the north. “Reno casinos thus got the downtown railroad trench for which they were not willing to pay,” columnist Andrew Barbano wrote this week. In 1998, Dini forced Price out of the Taxation chair and gave it to Goldwater.
The casinos were disturbed by Price blocking sales tax hikes, since it created pressure for higher casino taxes. He also introduced legislation protecting workers from firing without cause and barring casino political contributions. The casinos mounted a major 1990 campaign to defeat him for reelection in his North Las Vegas assembly district. He won.
His Assembly colleague Chris Giunchigliani said, “Bob Price was a prince of a man. … He was a proponent of annual sessions, public education and worker rights. It says a lot about a person when his ex-wives all got along and supported him. His style may have been low key, but he was definitely a statesman.”
He served 28 years, suffered a heart attack in 1998, left elective office in 2002 and moved to Sparks, where he and his wife Nancy—a former Nevada regent—lived in a home moved from its original site on the Comstock. He died there last week. A recreation center and a 10-acre park in Clark County are named for him.