Florida State Senate

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Florida State Senate

Florida State Senate Seal.jpg
General Information
Type:   Upper house
Partisan control:   Republican Party
Term limits:   2 terms (8 years)
2015 session start:   March 3, 2015
Website:   Official Senate Page
Senate President:   Andy Gardiner (R)
Majority Leader:   Bill Galvano (R)
Minority Leader:   Arthenia Joyner (D)
Members:  40
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:   Art I, Section 1, Florida Constitution
Salary:   $29,697/year + per diem
Last Election:  November 4, 2014 (20 seats)
Next election:  November 8, 2016 (20 seats)
Redistricting:  Florida Legislature has control
Meeting place:
Florida State Senate Chamber.jpg
The Florida State Senate is the upper house of the Florida State Legislature. The Senate includes 40 state senators who are elected from single-member districts to four-year terms with term limits. However, in the election following reapportionment, some senators are elected to two-year terms, in order to maintain staggered terms among the senators.[1] Each member represents an average of 470,033 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[2] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 399,559 residents.[3]

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

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


Article III of the Florida Constitution establishes when the Florida State Legislature, of which the Senate is a part, is to be in session. Section 3 of Article III states that the regular session of the Legislature is to convene on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March of each year. Regular sessions of the Legislature are not to exceed sixty days, unless extended by a three-fifths vote of each house.

Section 3 also allows for the convening of special sessions, either by the proclamation of the governor of Florida or as otherwise provided by law.


See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions

In 2015, the Legislature was in session from March 3 through May 1. A special session will be held from June 1 to June 20.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2015 legislative session included Gov. Rick Scott's (R) proposed $77 billion annual budget, water quality and the use of testing to evaluate students across the state.[4]


See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the Legislature was in session from March 3 through May 5.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included creating a new budget using an $850 million surplus, a package of $500 million in tax cuts called for by the governor, Common Core and Medicaid expansion.[5]

On May 2, 2014, legislators approved a $77 billion state budget which increased spending on schools, child welfare and the cleanup of damaged water bodies. The budget included a 5 percent raise for state law-enforcement officers and an increase for some working in the judiciary. Critics of the budget argued that the budget should have included raises for a much larger portion of state workers.[6][7]


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from March 5 through May 3.


Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included ethics and election reforms, gambling laws, Medicaid, sales tax and unmanned drone use by law enforcement.[8][9]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Senate was in session from January 10 through March 9.

Major issues

In a rebuke to the Republican leaders of the Florida State Senate, nine GOP senators joined Democrats in voting against a plan to create private prisons that was a high priority of Senate President Mike Haridopolos. The plan, which aimed to replace a similar one struck down last year for being unconstitutional, would have been the largest privatization of prisons in the country. It was voted down 21-19.[10]


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Senate was in session from March 8 through May 6.

Session highlights

In 2011, the legislature reduced government spending and avoided raising taxes. Spending was reduced by $1 billion from the previous year, and $4 billion less than in 2006. Florida also removed 14,000 businesses from corporate tax income rolls. Areas that spending was cut included education and social programs. The legislature removed funding from a veteran's homeless support group, reduced payments to social workers by 15 percent, and spent $2.5 billion less on education than the previous year.[11]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Senate was in session from March 2nd to April 30th.

Role in state budget

See also: Florida state budget and finances
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The state operates on an annual budget cycle.[12] The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[13]

  1. In July of the year preceding the start of the new fiscal year, the governor sends budget instructions to state agencies.
  2. In October agencies submit their budget requests to the governor.
  3. Budget hearings are held with state agencies in September.
  4. Public hearings are held in both September and January.
  5. In February the governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature.
  6. The legislature adopts a budget in April or May, effective for the fiscal year beginning in July. A simple majority is required to pass a budget.

The governor is constitutionally and statutorily required to submit a balanced budget to the legislature. In turn, the legislature must pass a balanced budget, and any budget signed into law by the governor must be balanced.[13]

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

Florida budgets three major funds: the General fund, the Major Special Revenue Fund and the Special Revenue Fund. Both the Major Special Revenue Fund and the Special Revenue Fund are comprised of lesser funds. The Major Special Revenue Fund is composed of three lesser funds, and the Special Revenue Fund is composed of about 19 to 20 lesser funds.[14]

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. Florida was one of the 10 states that used cost-benefit analysis more than the rest of the states with respect to determining return on investment regarding state programs. In addition, these states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis with respect to large budget areas and when making policy decisions.[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, Florida received a grade of A- and a numerical score of 92.5, indicating that Florida was "leading" 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. Florida 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.[17]



See also: Florida State Senate elections, 2014

Elections for the office of Florida State Senate took place in 2014. A primary election took place on August 26, 2014. The general election was held on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was June 20, 2014.


See also: Florida State Senate elections, 2012

Elections for the office of Florida State Senate were held in Florida on November 6, 2012. A total of 40 seats were up for election. Although Florida senators typically serve four-year terms, they are elected to a two-year term during the first election of the decade. Thus, rather than only half of all senators being up for election, all sitting members were on the ballot in 2012. The signature filing deadline for the 2012 elections was May 7 and the primary date was August 14.

Florida state senators are subject to term limits and may serve no more than two four-year terms. In 2012, 10 state senators were termed-out.

This chamber was mentioned in a November 2012 Pew Center on the States article that addressed supermajorities at stake in the 2012 election. Supermajority generally means a party controls two-thirds of all seats. While it varies from state to state, being in this position gives a party much greater power. Going into the election, Republicans in the Florida Senate held a supermajority, which Democrats looked to cut into.[18]

The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.


See also: Florida State Senate elections, 2010

Elections for the office of Florida State Senator were held in Florida on November 2, 2010. State senate seats in the even numbered districts were on the ballot in 2010.

The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was April 30, 2010, and the primary Election Day was August 24, 2010.

The partisan breakdown of the House before and after the election was as follows:

Florida State Senate
Party As of November 1, 2010 After the 2010 Election
     Democratic Party 13 12
     Republican Party 26 28
     Vacancy 1 -
Total 40 40

In 2010, the total amount of campaign contributions raised in senate elections was $14,617,863. The top 10 contributors were:[19]


See also: Florida State Senate elections, 2008

Elections for the office of Florida State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 26, 2008, and a general election on November 4, 2008.

During the 2008 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $13,201,165. The top 10 contributors were:[20]


See also: Florida State Senate elections, 2006

Elections for the office of Florida State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 5, 2006, and a general election on November 7, 2006.

During the 2006 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $16,698,450. The top 10 contributors were:[21]


See also: Florida State Senate elections, 2004

Elections for the office of Florida State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 31, 2004, and a general election on November 2, 2004.

During the 2004 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $4,973,600. The top 10 contributors were:[22]


See also: Florida State Senate elections, 2002

Elections for the office of Florida State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 10, 2002, and a general election on November 5, 2002.

During the 2002 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $13,012,199. The top 10 contributors were:[23]


See also: Florida State Senate elections, 2000

Elections for the office of Florida State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 5, 2000, and a general election on November 7, 2000.

During the 2000 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $12,151,845. The top 10 contributors were:[24]


To run for the Florida State Senate, candidates must be 21 years old, have lived in Florida for two years and live in the district they intend to serve.[25]


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 called to fill the vacant seat.[26] The governor is responsible for calling the election and must consult with the secretary of state to set the election dates and nominating deadlines.[27] The person elected to fill the seat serves for the remainder of the unexpired term.[28]

Term limits

See also: State legislatures with term limits

The Florida legislature is one of 15 state legislatures with term limits. Voters enacted the Florida Term Limits Act in 1992. That initiative said that Florida senators are subject to term limits of no more than two four-year terms.

The first year that the term limits enacted in 1992 impacted the ability of incumbents to run for office was in 2000.[1]


See also: Redistricting in Florida

The Florida Legislature is responsible for redistricting. For state legislative redistricting, the legislature must first pass a joint resolution, which is then sent to the state Supreme Court for review. If it is accepted, the plan becomes law. If it is not, the legislature holds a 15 day session to approve a new plan. If the second plan does not pass the Court or if the legislature fails to approve a new plan during the 15 days, the Court has 60 days to design their own plan.[29]

2010 census

Florida received its 2010 local census data on March 16, 2011. The state population increased by 2.8 million residents, or 17.6 percent.[30] Going into redistricting, it was clear that Amendment 5, passed by voters in 2010, was going to have a major impact on the process. Amendment 5 established that legislative district boundaries had to be drawn in such ways that they establish "fairness," are "as equal in population as feasible" and use "city, county and geographical boundaries."[31]

The Senate redistricting committee approved a proposed map on January 11, which ultimately received final approval from the Florida State Legislature on February 9. The legislative maps were approved 80-37 in the House and 31-7 in the Senate, moving to the Florida Supreme Court for approval.[32] On March 10, the Florida Supreme Court issued a 234-page decision rejecting the state’s new Senate maps, while upholding the new House districts and providing extensive interpretation of the state's 2010 redistricting reform amendment. The Court found that eight districts had been drawn to favor incumbents and thus violated the state's legislative redistricting amendment. In addition, the court found that districts had been renumbered in order to allow select incumbents to serve longer terms.[33]

The Legislature went back to work on the map, modifying 24 districts. The plan was then sent back to the Court, who approved it on April 27. Three days later it was approved by the U.S. Department of Justice.[34][35]


Partisan composition

See also: Partisan composition of state senates
Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 14
     Republican Party 26
Total 40

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


The President of the Senate is selected by the majority party caucus and then elected by the full membership of the Senate. The President Pro Tempore is selected by the President of the Senate and elected by the full membership of the Senate.[36][37]

Current leadership

Current Leadership, Florida State Senate
Office Representative Party
President of the Senate Andy Gardiner Ends.png Republican
President Pro Tempore Garrett Richter Ends.png Republican
Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano Ends.png Republican
Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Minority Leader Pro Tempore Oscar Braynon Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Minority Whip Joseph Abruzzo Electiondot.png Democratic
Florida senate districts.gif

Members of the Florida Senate must be at least 21 years old, a resident of the district where they have been elected, and must have lived in the state for two years before running for election.


See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the Florida legislature are paid $29,687 per year. Legislators are allowed $131 per day for per diem, tied to the federal rate. Travel vouchers are required.[38]

When sworn in

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

Florida legislators assume office two weeks following their election.

Current members

Current members, Florida State Senate
District Senator Party Assumed office
1 Don Gaetz Ends.png Republican 2006
2 Greg Evers Ends.png Republican 2010
3 Bill Montford Electiondot.png Democratic 2010
4 Aaron Bean Ends.png Republican 2012
5 Charles Dean Ends.png Republican 2008
6 Travis Hutson Ends.png Republican April 2015
7 Rob Bradley Ends.png Republican 2012
8 Dorothy L. Hukill Ends.png Republican 2012
9 Audrey Gibson Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
10 David Simmons Ends.png Republican 2010
11 Alan Hays Ends.png Republican 2010
12 Geraldine Thompson Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
13 Andy Gardiner Ends.png Republican 2008
14 Darren Soto Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
15 Kelli Stargel Ends.png Republican 2012
16 Thad Altman Ends.png Republican 2008
17 John Legg Ends.png Republican 2012
18 Wilton Simpson Ends.png Republican 2012
19 Arthenia Joyner Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
20 Jack Latvala Ends.png Republican 2010
21 Denise Grimsley Ends.png Republican 2012
22 Jeff Brandes Ends.png Republican 2012
23 Garrett Richter Ends.png Republican 2008
24 Tom Lee Ends.png Republican 2012
25 Joseph Abruzzo Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
26 Bill Galvano Ends.png Republican 2012
27 Jeff Clemens Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
28 Nancy Detert Ends.png Republican 2008
29 Jeremy Ring Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
30 Lizbeth Benacquisto Ends.png Republican 2010
31 Christopher Smith Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
32 Joe Negron Ends.png Republican 2009
33 Eleanor Sobel Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
34 Maria Lorts Sachs Electiondot.png Democratic 2010
35 Gwen Margolis Electiondot.png Democratic 2010
36 Oscar Braynon Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
37 Anitere Flores Ends.png Republican 2010
38 Rene Garcia Ends.png Republican 2010
39 Dwight Bullard Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
40 Miguel Diaz de la Portilla Ends.png Republican 2010

Standing Senate Committees

The Florida Senate has 21 standing committees for the 2015-2016 session:


David Levy Yulee was the first Senator of the Florida State Senate. He was elected in 1845 when Florida joined the Union.[39]

Partisan balance 1992-2013

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

From 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Florida State Senate for the last 19 years while the Democrats were the majority for one year. The Florida State Senate is one of 13 state senates that was Republican for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. During the final three years of the study, Florida was under Republican trifectas.

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 Florida, the Florida State Senate and the Florida House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Florida 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 Florida 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. During the years studied, Florida achieved place in the top-10 in only one year (2007). The state had one Democratic trifecta in 1992, while it has had a Republican trifecta for a total of fourteen years. Florida’s most precipitous drop in the SQLI ranking occurred between 2007 and 2008, when the state dropped from 8th to 19th. Florida also experienced a significant drop in the ranking between 2009 and 2010.

  • SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 29.00
  • SQLI average with Republican trifecta: 19.00
  • SQLI average with divided government: 29.71
Chart displaying the partisanship of Florida government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. 1.0 1.1 Florida Senate Website Archive, "Florida Constitution," accessed December 16, 2013(referenced Article III, Section 15a)
  2. U.S. Census Bureau, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed January 6, 2014
  3. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
  4. Fort Myers News-Press, "SWFL front and center come 2015 legislative session," January 28, 2015
  5. gainesville.com, "Big issues loom in next legislative session," September 22, 2013
  6. news-press.com, "State workers forgotten again in Florida budget," May 3, 2014
  7. bradenton.com, "Fla. legislators reach deal on spending items," April 28, 2014(Archived)
  8. Yahoo.com, "Florida legislature passes bill restricting drone use," April 17, 2013(Archived)
  9. boardroombrief.com, "Florida Legislature – 2013 session overview," May 17, 2013
  10. Palm Beach Post, "Prison privatization proposal failure stings Fla. Senate President Mike Haridopolos," February 19, 2012
  11. Stateline.org, "States balance budgets with cuts, not taxes," June 15, 2011(Archived)
  12. National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  14. State Budget Solutions, "Florida: Background," accessed April 15, 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. PEW Charitable Trusts, "In Legislative Elections, Majorities and Supermajorities at Stake," November 2, 2012
  19. Follow the Money, "Florida Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions," accessed April 23, 2015
  20. Follow the Money, "Florida 2008 Candidates," accessed July 12, 2013
  21. Follow the Money, "Florida 2006 Candidates," accessed July 12, 2013
  22. Follow the Money, "Florida 2004 Candidates," accessed July 12, 2013
  23. Follow the Money, "Florida 2002 Candidates," accessed July 12, 2013
  24. Follow the Money, "Florida 2000 Candidates," accessed July 12, 2013
  25. Florida Division of Elections, "Candidate Qualifying Information," accessed December 16, 2013
  26. Florida Legislature, "Florida Election Law," accessed December 16, 2013(Referenced Statute 100.101(2), Florida Election Code)
  27. Florida Legislature, "Florida Election Law," accessed December 16, 2013(Referenced Statute 100.141 (1) (2), Florida Election Code)
  28. Florida Legislature, "Florida Election Law," accessed December 16, 2013(Referenced Statute 100.111 (1) (a-c), Florida Election Code)
  29. Rose Report, "Florida Redistricting: The Complete Analysis," February 22, 2010(Archived)
  30. Naples News, "Florida picks up 2 congressional seats, 2010 Census shows," December 21, 2010
  31. The Daily Loaf, "Fair Districts Florida makes it on 2010 ballot," January 22, 2010
  32. CBS Miami, "Florida House Approves New Senate Redistricting Plan," accessed April 22, 2015
  33. WJHJ, "Florida Supreme Court Justices Reject Senate Redistricting Plan," March 9, 2012
  34. Orlando Sentinel, "State congressional, legislative districts approved by Justice Department," April 30, 2012
  35. local10.com, "Florida redistricting plans get final passage," accessed April 22, 2015
  36. Florida State Senate, "Senate Glossary," accessed April 23, 2015
  37. Florida State Senate, "Offices," accessed April 23, 2015
  38. NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
  39. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, "Yulee, David Levy, (1810 - 1886)," accessed April 23, 2015