Alabama State Senate

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Alabama State Senate

Alabama State Senate Seal.jpg
General Information
Type:   Upper house
Partisan control:   Republican Party
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   March 3, 2015
Website:   Official Senate Page
Senate President:   Kay Ivey (R)
Majority Leader:   J.T. Waggoner (R)
Minority Leader:   Vivian Figures (D)
Members:  35
   Independent (1)
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:   Art IV, Alabama Constitution
Salary:   $10/day + $4,308/month
Last Election:  November 4, 2014 (35 seats)
Next election:  November 6, 2018 (35 seats)
Redistricting:  Alabama Legislature has control
Meeting place:
The Alabama State Senate is the upper house of the Alabama State Legislature, the state legislature of Alabama. There are 35 state senators; they represent 35 districts each composed of an average of 136,564 residents as of the 2010 Census.[1] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 127,060.[2]

Alabama's senators serve without term limits for four-year terms.[3]

The criteria for senators under Article IV, Section 47, of the Alabama Constitution include: at least 25 years of age at the time of their election, a citizen and resident of the State of Alabama for at least 3 years, and resident of their district for at least one year prior to election.

The Lieutenant Governor of Alabama is the ex officio President of the Senate, and can cast a vote on senatorial business in the case of a tie.[4]

As of May 2015, Alabama is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.

See also: Alabama State Legislature, Alabama House of Representatives, Alabama Governor


Section 48 of Article IV of the Alabama Constitution initially set the rules for the timing and length of sessions for the Alabama State Legislature, which the Senate is a part of. However, these rules have since been changed by state statute.

The Alabama Legislature convenes in regular annual sessions on the first Tuesday in February, except during the first year of the four-year term, when the session begins on the first Tuesday in March. In the last year of a four-year term, the legislative session begins on the second Tuesday in January. The length of the regular session is limited to 30 meeting days within a period of 105 calendar days. There are usually two meeting or "legislative" days per week, with other days devoted to committee meetings.

The governor of Alabama can call, by proclamation, special sessions of the Alabama legislature. The governor must list the subjects on which legislation will be debated upon. These sessions are limited to 12 legislative days within a 30 calendar day span. In a regular session, bills may be enacted on any subject. In a special session, legislation must be enacted only on those subjects which the governor announces on their proclamation or "call." Anything not in the "call" requires a two-thirds vote of each house to be enacted.[5]

Bills can be prefiled before sessions, starting at the end of the previous session and ending at the beginning of the session for which they are being filed. The exception to this is for sessions beginning in March every four years.[6]

The Alabama Legislature has a constitutional session length limit of 105 calendar days.


See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions

In 2015, the Legislature is in session from March 3 through June 15.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2015 legislative session include a $265 million deficit in the state's General Fund. If left unchecked, this deficit is expected to reach nearly $700 million in a few years' time. This fund provides money for the judicial branch, prisons, Medicaid and state troopers.[7]


See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 14 through April 4.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included creating a new budget, a pay raise for teachers, Common Core and banning legislators from serving as lobbyists immediately following their departure.[8]


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from February 5 through May 20.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included the general fund, maintaining Medicaid, raises for teachers, giving schools more flexibility over state policies, and gun laws.[9] Heading into the session, the general fund was estimated to be $200 million short of requests.


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Senate was in regular session from February 7 through May 16. It held a special session from May 17 through May 24 to address redistricting.[10]


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Legislature was in session from March 1 through June 9.[11]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Senate was in session from January 12 through April 12.

Role in state budget

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See also: Alabama state budget and finances

The state operates on an annual budget cycle. Alabama's fiscal year runs from October 1 and ends September 30 of the following year. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[12][13]

  1. In September of the year preceding the start of the new fiscal year, budget instructions are sent to state agencies.
  2. In November, agencies submit their budget requests to the governor.
  3. Budget hearings are held with state agencies in January.
  4. By the second legislative day of each regular session of the legislature, the governor must submit his or her proposed budget to the state legislature. These dates vary from session to session, occurring as early as January and as late as March.
  5. The legislature must pass a budget with a simple majority. The fiscal year begins in October.

The governor is required to submit a balanced budget to the legislature. In turn, the legislature must pass a balanced budget.[13]

Alabama is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[13][14][13]

Cost-benefit analyses

See also: Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative Cost-Benefit Study
Map showing results of the Pew-MacArthur cost-benefit study.

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 indicating that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis, while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. The challenges states faced included a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Alabama was one of 29 states with mixed results regarding the frequency and effectiveness in its use of cost-benefit analysis.[15]

Ethics and transparency

Following the Money report

See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending.[16] According to the report, Alabama received a grade of D and a numerical score of 55, indicating that Alabama was "lagging" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.[16]

Open States Transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Alabama was given a grade of F in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.[17]



See also: Alabama State Senate elections, 2014

Elections for the office of Alabama State Senate took place in 2014. A primary election took place on June 3, 2014; a runoff election took place where necessary on July 15, 2014. The general election was held on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was February 7, 2014.


See also: Alabama State Senate elections, 2010

All 35 Alabama state senate seats were up for re-election on November 2, 2010.

The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was April 2, 2010, and the primary Election Day was June 1, 2010.

During the 2010 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $24,953,102. The top 10 contributors were:[18]

2010 Donors, Alabama State Senate
Donor Amount
Alabama Republican Party $1,493,942
Tennessee Valley Citizens for Economic Development $1,397,160
Alabama Education Association $868,675
Business Council of Alabama $817,000
Senate Majority PAC $745,634
Alabama Farmers Federation $597,293
George Davis Flowers $568,947
Progress for Alabama PAC $525,696
Alabama Democratic Party $435,499
Alabama Power Co $390,250


See also: Alabama State Senate elections, 2006

Elections for the office of Alabama State Senate consisted of a primary election on June 6, 2006, and a general election on November 7, 2006.

During the 2006 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $24,792,035. The top 10 contributors were:[19]


See also: Alabama State Senate elections, 2002

Elections for the office of Alabama State Senate consisted of a primary election on June 6, 2002, and a general election on November 7, 2002.

During the 2002 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $15,536,155. The top 10 contributors were:[20]


Under Article IV, Section 47, of the Alabama Constitution, senators must be at least 25 years of age at the time of their election, must be citizens and residents of the State of Alabama for at least 3 years and residents of their district at least one year prior to election.[3]


See also: How vacancies are filled in state legislatures
How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures
NevadaMassachusettsColoradoNew MexicoWyomingArizonaMontanaCaliforniaOregonWashingtonIdahoTexasOklahomaKansasNebraskaSouth DakotaNorth DakotaMinnesotaIowaMissouriArkansasLouisianaMississippiAlabamaGeorgiaFloridaSouth CarolinaIllinoisWisconsinTennesseeNorth CarolinaIndianaOhioKentuckyPennsylvaniaNew JerseyNew YorkVermontVermontNew HampshireMaineWest VirginiaVirginiaMarylandMarylandConnecticutConnecticutDelawareDelawareRhode IslandRhode IslandMassachusettsNew HampshireMichiganMichiganAlaskaVacancy fulfillment map.png

If there is a vacancy in the Senate, a special election must be conducted in order to fill the vacant seat. The governor must call for a special election if the vacancy happened before next scheduled general election and the Senate is in session.[21][22] The governor has all discretion in setting the date of the election along with nominating deadlines.[22]


See also: Redistricting in Alabama

The Alabama Legislative Committee on Reapportionment is responsible for drafting plans for redistricting in the state House and Senate.

2010 census

Census date was shipped to Alabama on February 23, 2011. The state population increased by over 300,000 residents (~7.5%).[23] 2011 was the first year in which the state's redistricting process was done using a GIS online platform.[24] The legislative maps, however, were not worked on until May 2012, and Republicans were in charge of the process for the first time since Reconstruction. Maps for both chambers were passed in a controversial special session, in which a final vote was taken in the Senate without a reading of the bill originated in the House. Soon after the plan passed in the Senate, the House approved the new plan. It next went to Gov. Robert Bentley (R) for his signature, and then had to be approved by the U.S. Justice Department.[25]


Partisan composition

See also: Partisan composition of state senates
Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 8
     Republican Party 26
     Independent 1
Total 35

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Alabama State Senate from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Alabama State Senate.PNG


The Lieutenant Governor serves as President of the Senate, but can only vote in the event of a tie. The President Pro Tempore is elected from the Senate membership during each organizational session and serves in the absence of the President of the Senate as well leader of the Senate and majority party.[4]

Current leadership

Current Leadership, Alabama State Senate
Office Representative Party
President of the Senate Kay Ivey Ends.png Republican
President Pro Tempore of the Senate Del Marsh Ends.png Republican
State Senate Majority Leader J.T. Waggoner Ends.png Republican
State Senate Minority Leader Vivian Figures Electiondot.png Democratic


See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the Alabama legislature are paid $10/day plus $4,308/month plus $50/day for three days during each week that the legislature actually meets during any session.[26]


Alabama does not provide pensions for legislators.[27]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Alabama's state senators assume office on midnight of the day that they are elected.[3]

Current members

Current members, Alabama State Senate
District Senator Party Assumed office
1 Tim Melson Ends.png Republican 2014
2 Bill Holtzclaw Ends.png Republican 2010
3 Arthur Orr Ends.png Republican 2006
4 Paul Bussman Ends.png Republican 2010
5 Greg Reed Ends.png Republican 2010
6 Larry Stutts Ends.png Republican 2014
7 Paul Sanford Ends.png Republican 2009
8 Steve Livingston Ends.png Republican 2014
9 Clay Scofield Ends.png Republican 2010
10 Phil Williams Ends.png Republican 2010
11 Jim McClendon Ends.png Republican 2014
12 Del Marsh Ends.png Republican 1998
13 Gerald Dial Ends.png Republican 2010
14 Cam Ward Ends.png Republican 2010
15 Slade Blackwell Ends.png Republican 2010
16 J. T. Waggoner Ends.png Republican 1990
17 Shay Shelnutt Ends.png Republican 2014
18 Rodger Smitherman Electiondot.png Democratic 1994
19 Priscilla Dunn Electiondot.png Democratic 1998
20 Linda Coleman Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
21 Gerald Allen Ends.png Republican 2010
22 Greg Albritton Ends.png Republican 2014
23 Henry Sanders Electiondot.png Democratic 1982
24 Bobby Singleton Electiondot.png Democratic 2005
25 Dick L. Brewbaker Ends.png Republican 2010
26 Quinton Ross Electiondot.png Democratic 2002
27 Tom Whatley Ends.png Republican 2010
28 Billy Beasley Electiondot.png Democratic 2010
29 Harri Anne Smith Grey.png Nonpartisan 1998
30 Clyde Chambliss, Jr. Ends.png Republican 2014
31 Jimmy Holley Ends.png Republican 1998
32 Trip Pittman Ends.png Republican 2007
33 Vivian Figures Electiondot.png Democratic 1997
34 Rusty Glover Ends.png Republican 2006
35 Bill Hightower Ends.png Republican 2013

Senate committees

The Alabama State Senate has 21 standing committees. Per Rule 47 of the Senate Rules, committees of the Alabama State Senate are assigned by the Committee on Assignments, consisting of the president pro tempore, lieutenant governor, senate majority leader and three additional members appointed by the president pro tempore.[28] The rules do not specify how often committees are assigned.[29] A majority of appointed members make up a committee's quorum. The president of the Senate serves as an ex officio member of each committee, except specific Local Legislation Committees, with the power to vote. The president may appoint a senator who is not already on a committee to serve as his official substitute.[30]

DocumentIcon.jpg See rules: Senate Rules

Alabama State Senate
SLP badge.png
Senate Committees

Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
Banking and InsuranceConfirmations
Constitution, Ethics and Elections
County and Municipal Government
Education and Youth Affairs
Finance and Taxation Education
Finance and Taxation General Fund
Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development
Governmental AffairsHealth and Human ServicesJudiciary
Local LegislationJefferson County Legislation
Madison County LegislationMobile County Legislation
Shelby County LegislationRules
Tourism and Marketing
Transportation and Energy
Veterans and Military Affairs

Joint Committees
House Committees


President of Senate

James Titus was the first President of the Alabama State Senate. He was elected in 1818.[31]

Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
Partisan breakdown of the Alabama legislature from 1992-2013
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Alabama

From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Alabama State Senate for 19 years while the Republicans were the majority for three years. The Alabama State Senate is 1 of 16 state senates that was Democratic for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. However, starting with the Alabama State Senate elections in 2010, both legislative chambers took a turn toward the Republican side. Since Alabamans have elected Republican governors since November 2002, the state has had a Republican trifecta as of the November 2010 elections.

Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Alabama, the Alabama State Senate and the Alabama House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Alabama state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

To read the full report on the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI) in PDF form, click here.

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Alabama state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Between the years 1993-1994 and 1999-2002, Alabama had Democratic trifectas, and since 2011, Alabama has had a Republican trifecta. In every remaining year between 1992 and 2012, Alabama had a Republican governor with a Democratic legislature. In every year of the study, Alabama ranked in the bottom-10 on the SQLI ranking. Its lowest ranking occurred during the Democratic trifectas of 1999 and 2000 (46th), while the state’s highest ranking occurred during the divided government years of 2005 and 2006 (41st).

  • SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 44.33
  • SQLI average with Republican trifecta: 43.50
  • SQLI average with divided government: 42.83
Chart displaying the partisanship of Alabama government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1., "Population in 2010 of the American states," accessed January 6, 2014
  2. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Alabama State Legislature, "The Alabama State Senate," accessed December 12, 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1 Alabama State Legislature, "Rules Relating to the Presiding Officer," accessed April 21, 2015(Rule 42)
  5. Alabama State Legislature, "Visitor's Guide to the Alabama Legislature," accessed May 15, 2014
  6. Alabama State Legislature, "The Rules of the Senate of Alabama," accessed May 15, 2014
  7., "What big issues will the Alabama Legislature solve in 2015? Let us know in the poll and comments," December 31, 2014
  8., "Seven issues to watch in the 2014 legislative session," January 12, 2014
  9., "Alabama Legislature 2013: 10 hot issues to watch in the upcoming session," February 2, 2013
  10., "Alabama Legislature passes redistricting plans," accessed April 21, 2015
  11., "2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar," accessed April 23, 2015
  12. National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  14. NCSL, "Gubernatorial Veto Authority with Respect to Major Budget Bill(s)," accessed March 2, 2014
  15. Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
  16. 16.0 16.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  17. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  18. Follow the Money, "Alabama 2010 Senate Candidates," accessed May 15, 2014
  19. Follow the Money, "Alabama 2006 Senate Candidates," accessed April 9, 2013
  20. Follow the Money, "Alabama 2002 Senate Candidates," accessed April 9, 2013
  21. Alabama State Legislature, "Code of Alabama Section 17-15-1," accessed December 12, 2013
  22. 22.0 22.1 Alabama State Legislature, "Code of Alabama Section 17-15-3," accessed December 12, 2013
  23. News Courier, "Census: Alabama won't gain, lose House seats," December 21, 2010
  24. Geo Community, "Alabama moves its redistricting process to the web," January 20, 2011
  25., "Alabama Legislature passes redistricting plans," accessed April 21, 2015
  26., "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
  27. USA Today, "State-by-state: Benefits available to state legislators," September 23, 2011
  28. Alabama State Legislature, "Senate Rules," accessed February 11, 2014(Rule 47-b)
  29. Alabama State Legislature, "Senate Rules," accessed January 15, 2014
  30. Alabama State Legislature, "Senate Rules," accessed January 15, 2014(Rule 48)
  31. Alabama State Legislature, "Past Presidents and Secretaries of the Alabama Senate," accessed May 15, 2014(Archived)