Monday, June 10, 2013

Obituary: Barbara Vucanovich

Obituary: Former congresswoman Barbara Vucanovich, 91, the first person elected to the second congressional district in Nevada and served there for some 14 years (1983-1997), after a brief illness. She was also the first woman elected to Congress from the Silver State.

She was too far right for my tastes and tended to be a Paul Laxalt clone, but there were far worse people in Congress.

Vucanovich first served on the House Interior Committee, an important assignment for rural constituents concerned with mining, grazing, and water issues. Among the bills she authored and saw enacted into law were the Source Tax – to prevent other states from collecting taxes on the pension and retirement benefits of retirees, many of whom had moved to Nevada – and the repeal of the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit.

As she gained seniority, Vucanovich served on the House Appropriations Committee and later chaired the Subcommittee on Military Construction. She supported equal treatment and pay for women and funding for early screening, detection, and treatment of breast cancer. She was elected Republican Conference Secretary (one of the four leadership positions) in the 104th Congress, making her the first Nevadan to serve in a leadership position in House of Representatives.

Vucanovich served on the Presidential Debate Commission, the Commission to Select White House Fellows, and the Fund Board of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Justices. She was a trustee on the Board of Saint Mary’s Health Network and the Board of Casa de Vida, a home for unwed mothers, and was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The University of Nevada, Reno awarded her an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities in 2004. The main post office in Reno was named the Barbara F. Vucanovich Post Office in her honor.

Her daughter, Patty Cafferata, was someone who frequently came to the law library when I worked there. She was a nice person, and her mother was in there one time as well and was very pleasant.

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