Arizona State Legislature

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Arizona State Legislature

General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   4 terms (8 years)
2015 session start:   January 12, 2015
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Senate President:   Andy Biggs (R)
House Speaker:  David Gowan (R)
Majority Leader:   Steve Yarbrough (R) (Senate),
Steve Montenegro (R) (House)
Minority Leader:   Katie Hobbs (D) (Senate),
Eric Meyer (D) (House)
Members:  30 (Senate), 60 (House)
Length of term:   2 years (Senate), 2 years (House)
Authority:   Art 4, Arizona Constitution
Salary:   $24,000/year + per diem
Last Election:  November 4, 2014
30 seats (Senate)
60 seats (House)
Next election:  November 8, 2016
30 seats (Senate)
60 seats (House)
Redistricting:  Arizona Redistricting Commission
The Arizona Legislature is the state legislature of Arizona. It is a bicameral legislature that consists of a lower house, the Arizona House of Representatives, and an upper house, the Arizona State Senate. There are 60 Representatives and 30 Senators. The state legislature meets in the Capitol Complex in the state capital, Phoenix.

As of April 2015, Arizona is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.

See also: Arizona House of Representatives, Arizona State Senate, Arizona Governor


Article IV of the Arizona Constitution establishes when the Legislature is to be in session. Section 3 of the Second Part of the Article contains the relevant provisions. It states that sessions are to convene on the second Monday of January of each year.

Section 3 also allows the governor of Arizona to call special sessions of the Legislature.


See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions

In 2015, the Legislature was in session from January 12 to April 2.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2015 legislative session included a $520 million budget deficit, settling a school funding inflation lawsuit and the state's College and Career Ready Standards.[1]


See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 13 to April 24.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included student success-based K-12 funding and university funding.[2]

The legislature considered and rejected several controversial proposals during the 2014 session.[3] These proposals included a bill that would have allowed religious leaders to decline officiating same-sex weddings and a bill that would have banned cell phone use by teenaged drivers during the first six months of driving with a license.[3]


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 14 to June 14.

Major issues

Losing super-majorities in the House and Senate, Republicans no longer wielded the same level of power and compromises were more likely. Gov. Jan Brewer (R) said her legislative priorities included education standards and simplifying the state's transaction privilege tax.[4]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Legislature was in regular session from January 10 through May 3.[5]


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Legislature was in regular session from January 10 through April 20.[6] Three special sessions were called in Arizona for 2011. The first special session was convened on January 19, addressing requests for a federal Medicaid exemption. A second special session was called by Governor Jan Brewer on February 14, 2011. The special session will run in tandem with the regular session, and was convened to consider business tax cuts as part of an economic development package proposed to add jobs by encouraging businesses to expand and relocate in Arizona.[7] The third special session was convened on June 10 to extend unemployment benefits. The session lasted two days, and ended on June 13 without a vote on Governor Brewer's proposal. Brewer refuses to call another special session until lawmakers support the unemployment extension.[8]

Session highlights

In the 2011 session, Arizona fixed its $1.5 billion shortfall by eliminating $1.1 billion in spending. There were no new taxes instated to help with the reductions, only tax cuts. The legislature sliced the corporate income tax rate from 6.9 percent to 4.9 percent.[9]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Legislature was in regular session from January 11th to April 29th. The Legislature was convened in special session from February 1st-11th.

Role in state budget

See also: Arizona state budget and finances
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Arizona operates on a biennial budget cycle, with each biennium beginning in July. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[10][11]

  1. Budget instructions are sent to state agencies on June 1 of the year preceding the start of the new biennium
  2. State agencies submit their budget requests to the governor by September 1.
  3. Agency hearings are held in November and December.
  4. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature in January.
  5. From January through April, the legislature debates the budget. A simple majority is required to pass a budget.

Arizona is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[11]

The governor is required by law to submit a balanced budget to the legislature. In turn, the legislature is legally required to pass a balanced budget.[11]

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. Arizona was one of 11 states that made rare use of cost-benefit analyses in policy and budget processes.[12]

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.[13] According to the report, Arizona received a grade of B and a numerical score of 84, indicating that Arizona was "advancing" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.[13]

Open States Transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Arizona was given a grade of C 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.[14]


There are 30 legislative districts in Arizona, each of which is a multi-member constituency. Each district elects a Senator and 2 Representatives for a two-year term. The crossing of upper and lower house districts into a single constituency is found in only seven U.S. state legislatures: Arizona, Idaho, Maryland, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Washington.

Term limits

See also: State legislatures with term limits

Serving two-year terms, both Senators and Representatives are constricted by term limits. Members may only serve four consecutive terms (or eight years) in either chamber.

Arizona's term limits were approved by the state's voters in 1992, when Proposition 107 was enacted with 74.2% of the vote.



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

Currently, members of the Legislature earn $24,000 each year, which is paid on a bi-weekly basis throughout the calendar year. This amount was approved by the voters through Proposition 302 during the 1998 general election. Prior to that, legislators earned $15,000 per year from 1981 through 1998 and $6,000 per year before 1981.

Legislators who reside in Maricopa County (the metropolitan Phoenix area) are paid $35 a day in per diem expenses for the first 120 days of regular and special sessions, then $10 a day thereafter. Members who reside outside Maricopa County receive an additional $25 a day for the first 120 days of session (for a total of $60 a day), and then an additional $10 a day thereafter (for a total of $20 a day).[15]

In 2006, Arizona Proposition 302 attempted to raise legislative salaries to $36,000 annually, but was defeated.[16][17] Arizona Proposition 300 attempted to raise annual salaries to $30,000 in 2008, but was also defeated.[18][19]

When sworn in

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

Arizona legislators assume office on the first day of the session after they are elected. Each regular session begins on the second Monday in January.


The Arizona Senate consists of 30 members. Each member represents an average of 213,067 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[20] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 171,021.[21] Members serve two-year terms with term limits, limiting Senators to four terms (a total of eight years). Members of the Republican Party are currently in the majority in the Senate.

Members to the Senate are elected from the same legislative districts as members of the House of Representatives; however, one Senator represents the constituency, while for the House there are two Representatives per district. This districting system is similar to those in Idaho and Washington.

Like other upper houses of state and territorial legislatures and the federal U.S. Senate, the Senate can confirm or reject gubernatorial appointments to the state cabinet, commissions and boards.

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 13
     Republican Party 17
Total 30

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Arizona State House of Representatives from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Arizona State House.PNG

Leadership of the Senate

Arizona, along with Oregon, Maine and Wyoming, is one of the four U.S. states to have abolished the office of the lieutenant governor, a position which for most upper houses of state legislatures and indeed for the U.S. Congress (with the vice president) is the head of the legislative body.

In the lieutenant governor's constitutional absence, the president of the senate presides over the body, appointing members to all of the Senate's committees and joint committees, and may create other committees and subcommittees if desired. In the senate president's absence, the president pro tempore presides.

The current President of the Senate is Republican Steve Pierce of District 1. The Senate Majority Leader is Andy Biggs of District 22. The Senate Minority Leader is David Schapira of District 17.

House of Representatives

The Arizona House of Representatives is the lower house of the Arizona State Legislature. Its members are elected to two-year terms with a term limit of four consecutive terms (eight years). Members of the Republican Party currently hold a majority in the House.

The House of Representatives is composed of 60 members representing 30 multi-member constituencies, with two members per district. This district setup is similar to both the Washington and Idaho districting systems. Each member represents an average of 106,534 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[22] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 85,511.[23]

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 24
     Republican Party 36
Total 60

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Arizona State House of Representatives from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Arizona State House.PNG

Powers and responsibilities

Constitutional amendments

Main article: Amending state constitutions

Article 21 of the Arizona Constitution, in addition to defining the people's right of initiative, also defines the role the state legislature can play in amending the state's constitution:

  • Either chamber of the Arizona legislature is allowed to propose an amendment as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. A majority of members of both chambers must approve it; if they do, the proposed amendment goes on a statewide ballot for a popular vote of the people where if a simple majority approves it, it becomes part of the constitution.
  • The Arizona secretary of state is required to publish a copy of the proposed amendment in a newspaper in each of Arizona's 15 counties for a period of at least 90 days before the election.
  • Proposed amendments must be voted on separately.
  • The state legislature is allowed to call a special election for the purposes of voting on proposed amendments. If no special election is called, amendments are voted on in the next statewide general election.
  • A constitutional convention may be called by a statewide vote of the people. In the absence of such a vote, the state legislature is not allowed to call a convention. Any proposed changes to the constitution that are reported out of a constitutional convention must be submitted to a statewide popular vote where, if approved by a majority of those voting, become part of the constitution.


Partisan balance 1992-2013

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

Arizona Senate: From 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Arizona State Senate for 20 years while the Democrats were never the majority. The Arizona State Senate is one of 13 state senates that was Republican for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. The Arizona senate spent the last 11 years under the control of the Republican party. During the final five years of the study, Arizona was under Republican trifectas.

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

Arizona House of Representatives: Throughout every year from 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Arizona State House of Representatives. The Arizona State House is one of nine state Houses that was Republican for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. During the final five years of the study, Arizona was under Republican trifectas.

Across the country, there were 577 Democratic and 483 Republican State Houses of Representatives 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 Arizona, the Arizona State Senate and the Arizona House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Arizona 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 Arizona 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. Arizona had Republican trifectas between 1993 and 2001 and between 2009 and 2013, but no Democratic trifectas during the period of the study. Between these two trifectas, Arizona had divided government. In three separate years, Arizona ranked in the bottom-10 in the SQLI ranking, two of which occurred under Republican trifectas (1996 and 1997) and the other during divided government (2002). Arizona’s highest SQLI ranking occurred in 2006 (16th), under divided government, while its lowest ranking (41st) occurred in 2002 under divided government.

  • SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: N/A
  • SQLI average with Republican trifecta: 36.33
  • SQLI average with divided government: 27.22
Chart displaying the partisanship of Arizona government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

Joint Legislative Committees

The Arizona State Legislature has fifteen (15) joint interim committees:

See also

External links


Wikipedia® has an article on:


  1. AZ Ed News, "Arizona legislators on the budget, education funding and standards," December 1, 2014
  2., "Education, CPS Issues Expected to Top 2014 Legislative Session," January 13, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1, "Arizona Legislature rejected controversial bills," April 28, 2014
  4. Cronkite News, "Brewer, top legislators: Education, businesses priorities for session," January 11, 2013
  5. StateScape, Session schedules," accessed April 30, 2012
  6., Ariz. Legislature ends session after all-nighter, 20 April 2011
  7., Arizona governor calls special session on economy, 14 Feb. 2011
  8. Bloomberg Businessweek, Ariz. Gov won't seek session without bill backing, June 15, 2011
  9., States balance budgets with cuts, not taxes, June 15, 2011 (Archived)
  10. National Conference of State Legislatures "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 National Association of State Budget Officers "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  12. Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
  13. 13.0 13.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  14. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  15., "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
  16. Arizona 2006 election results
  17. Proposition 302 Information
  18. Arizona Elections Division, 2008 Election Results, "Proposition 300"
  19. 2008 Arizona Ballot Measure 300
  20. U.S. Census Bureau, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed January 6, 2014
  21. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
  22. U.S. Census Bureau, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed January 6, 2014
  23. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001