Edlen Electrical’s Julie Pazina Talks About Her First Legislative Session Serving as Nevada State Senator

December 20, 2023
julie pazina

Edlen Electrical Vice President Business Development Julie Pazina was elected Nevada State Senator of District 12 in 2022, and she served in her first legislative session earlier this year. As a first-term Senator, she had eight pieces of legislation signed into law — the most of any freshman legislator.


The Nevada State Legislature has 63 members — 21 senators and 42 assembly people. They meet in session in Carson City for 120 days every other year, so there’s a lot to accomplish in a short period of time.

From February through June, Pazina spent her days working on legislation or attending meetings, as well as chairing the Natural Resources Committee and the first-ever Tourism Caucus. In the evening, she would spend an hour or so checking her Edlen email, typically while eating dinner, before spending the rest of the night getting up to speed on a wide variety of legislation — ranging from organ donations to water conservation — or other issues on tap for the next day.

At the recent International Association of Exhibitions and Events Expo! Expo! in Dallas, we caught up with Pazina, who was working at the Edlen booth on the show floor, to find out what her experience was like, what she was able to accomplish in her first session and how she is representing the travel and tourism industry as an elected representative.

Watch or listen to the full interview here or read excerpts below from our conversation that took place on Dec. 6 at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center.


Edlen Electrical VP Business Development Julie Pazina was elected Nevada State Senator of District 12 in 2022.

Tell us about your first year and how your first legislative session went.

Being the first representative who could represent our industry, trade show and hospitality, I had a lot I wanted to accomplish. I was able to pass 80% of the legislation of the bills that I brought forward through both houses, and then they were signed by the governor. I chaired a committee on Natural Resources. With some of the water conservation challenges we've had in the West and with Nevada being the driest state, that was something that was really important to me. We've had a drought since 1998. We passed some good legislation and tried to build back some of our reserves in the Colorado River. The other thing I did, which I was really proud of, is I chaired our first-ever Tourism Caucus.


What does it mean to chair the first-ever Tourism Caucus?

It is incredibly important that legislators understand what it is that [our industry does]. We talk about advocacy, especially during the pandemic. Not being able to serve – having run prior to the pandemic – it was one of the biggest gut punches to me because no one was there who really got what we did. We talk about safe reopenings, but if someone doesn't understand how our industry works and we’re not there to explain it, then it can be a little more challenging to people who are very well-meaning and want to do right to keep people safe but also to keep people working. 

One of my objectives was to ensure that elected officials, our legislative representatives, in Carson City at least, in Nevada, understand the challenges that the industry faces – whether it's safety or any other number of things. It was important to bring forward the resorts and our tourism leaders and have them speak to legislative members and about what we face as an industry. It's not telling them how to vote, it's just giving them background so when they vote on issues, they have a better understanding of the impacts legislation will have.”


How are you educating legislators about the industry?

Now we're in the interim. Our legislative session ended in June, and we meet every other year. We're committed to having interim committee meetings. One thing I'm committed to as Chair of the Tourism Caucus is bringing our members on field trips — both in the north and south. We did a hard hat tour of Fountainbleau, which opens up next week [Fountainbleau Las Vegas officially opened on Dec. 13], and the next field trip I have planned is to bring our members to a trade show, but not once it's open. I want them [the committee] to see the move-in because I want them to understand how many people — the sheer amount of labor and work it takes to get a show open.


How many legislative members participated in the Fountainbleau tour and what was it like?

About 15 people signed up, which is still a pretty large number, but I think about 12 ended up there. We had Colleen Birch, who is [Fountainbleau] COO, walk around with us, and she's phenomenal. I have known her for a few years now and was incredibly excited when she was made COO over it. They took us around and showed us the behind the scenes of the conference space, the restaurants, the pool area. I think everyone enjoyed the novelty of getting to see a massive resort about to open because we don't have as many now in Las Vegas as we've had over time, and the Fountainbleau is unique in that we had hoped to get it open a while ago.


The Fountainbleau project started 18 years ago, according to our reporting.

It was trying to move forward and then it didn't because of the financial crisis. I believe Colleen had been there and then left when it wasn't able to move forward and then came back. There were a number of team members who have similar stories, so it was exciting to be there and get a sneak peek. We all did have to sign non-disclosure agreements and no pictures.


Now those members are more familiar with what we do?

My goal is to keep people engaged, excited and when they are looking at legislation in the future to think about Colleen and her team, to think about that tour and to think about their trips to the trade show floor and understanding how many people it impacts when we vote on legislation.


What did you learn now that you've had that experience?

I had run in ‘18 and lost in a close election and then won in ‘22. I've been helping other campaigns since I was 11 years old. What I discovered is that I've never been a huge fan of campaigning. I love the policy. If I could focus on policy 100% of the time, I'd be the happiest person – I love it. And I think that's probably where my talents lie, more so for sure than campaigning.


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