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Louisiana State Senate

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Louisiana State Senate

Seal of Louisiana.png
General Information
Type:   Upper house
Term limits:   3 terms (12 years)
2015 session start:   April 13, 2015
Website:   Official Senate Page
Senate President:   John Alario (R)
Members:  39
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:   Art III, Section 3, Louisiana Constitution
Salary:   $15,362/year
Last Election:  November 19, 2011 (39 seats)
Next election:  November 3, 2015 (39 seats)
Redistricting:  Louisiana legislature has control
The Louisiana State Senate is the upper house of the Louisiana State Legislature. Thirty-nine members, who are elected to four-year terms, serve in the chamber.[1] The senate meets at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. Each member represents an average of 116,240 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[2] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 114,589 residents.[3]

As of March 2015, Louisiana is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.

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


Article III of the Louisiana Constitution establishes when the Louisiana State Legislature, of which the Senate is a part, is to be in session. Section 2 of Article III states that, in even-numbered years, the Legislature shall convene on the last Monday in March and meet for no more than sixty legislative days during a period of eighty-five calendar days. In odd-numbered years, the Legislature is to convene on the last Monday in April and meet for no more than forty-five legislative days during a period of sixty calendar days. During regular sessions in odd-numbered years, the Legislature can only consider measures regarding the state budget, revenues, and appropriations.

Section 2 of Article III also allows the Legislature to be called into a special session by the Governor of Louisiana or by a majority of the members of each legislative house. During special sessions, the Legislature can only legislate on matters related to the proclaimed purposes of the session.

Section 2 of Article III also authorizes the Governor of Louisiana to call an emergency session without prior notice in the event of a public emergency.


See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the Senate was in session from March 10 through June 3.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2014 legislative session included Common Core, education funding, Medicaid expansion, the coastal erosion lawsuit filed by the South Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East and the legalization of medical marijuana.[4][5]


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Senate was in session from April 8 through June 6.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included the state budget, an overhaul of public education, increasing the retirement age of public workers, gun control and abortion.[6]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Senate was in session from March 12 through June 4.


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Senate was in regular session from April 25 through June 23. The Legislature was in a special session regarding the census and redistricting from March 20 to April 13.[7][8]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Senate was in session from March 29 to June 21.[9]

Role in state budget

See also: Louisiana state budget and finances
Louisiana on Horizontal-Policypedia logo-color.png
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The state operates on an annual budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[10][11]

  1. Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in September.
  2. State agencies submit their budget requests in November.
  3. Agency hearings are held in January and February.
  4. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature 45 days prior to the regular session of the legislature (for a newly elected governor, this deadline is extended to 30 days prior to the regular session of the legislature).
  5. The legislature typically adopts a budget in June. A simple majority is required to pass a budget. The fiscal year begins July 1.

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

The governor is legally required to submit a balanced budget proposal. Likewise, the legislature is legally required to adopt 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. Louisiana was one of 29 states with mixed results regarding the frequency and effectiveness in its use of cost-benefit analysis.[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, Louisiana received a grade of B+ and a numerical score of 88, indicating that Louisiana 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. Louisiana was given a grade of D 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]


Louisiana is one of only four states that hold state elections in odd-numbered years. Clerk of the Louisiana House Alfred "Butch" Speer explains why:

For scores of years we conducted our party primaries in the winter of the odd numbered years, with any necessary 2d primary held in January. Because Republican voter registration was so miniscule from 1877 until 1980, the general elections were mere irritants to the Democrat primary victor. Once we scrapped the partisan primary system [1975] we set the entire system up to run in the fall of the odd numbered year, our traditional election season.[15]


See also: Louisiana State Senate elections, 2011

Primary elections for Louisiana's state senators were held in Louisiana on October 22, 2011, with necessary runoffs on November 19, 2011.

During the 2011 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $13,611,411. The top 10 contributors were:[16]


See also: Louisiana State Senate elections, 2007

Following the 2000 Census, each of Louisiana's 39 state senators represented an average population of 114,589 people. In 2007, Senate candidates raised a total of $18,266,324 in campaign contributions.

Year Number of candidates Total contributions
2007 90 $18,266,324
2003 95 $13,648,458

The top 10 donors were:[17]


See also: Louisiana State Senate elections, 2003

Elections for the office of Louisiana State Senate consisted of a primary election on October 4, 2003, and a general election on November 15, 2003.

During the 2003 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $13,648,458. The top 10 contributors were:[18]


Elections for the office of Louisiana State Senate consisted of a general election on October 23, 1999.

During the 1999 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $12,374,378. The top 10 contributors were:[19]


In order to run for office, the following qualifications are in place for candidates:[20]

  • Must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Must be a resident of the district they seek to hold office to for a minimum of two years.
  • Must not have served more than two and one half terms previously in office. This is for any candidate who has held office in the past after January 8, 1996.
  • Have not been convicted of a felony offense.
  • Have no outstanding fines with the Louisiana Ethics Administration Program.
  • Pay a $225 filing fee with the Clerk of Court in the parish they reside in or collect 400 signatures.
  • If running as a Republican or Democrat, pay an additional $112.50 filing fee with the state and/or parish executive committee of their party.


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, the vacant seat must be filled by a special election. An election is required if there is six months or more left in the unexpired term. The Senate President must call for an election no later than 10 days after the vacancy happened. The Senate President must determine the dates for the election along with all filing deadlines. The person elected to the seat serves for the remainder of the unexpired term.[21]

Term limits

See also: State legislatures with term limits

The Louisiana legislature is one of 15 state legislatures with term limits. Of the 15 states, it is the only state where term limits were imposed by the state's legislators, rather than through the ballot initiative process. Under Louisiana's term limits, state senators can serve no more than three 4-year terms in the senate.[1]

The state's term limits law was enacted in 1995. The first year that the term limits enacted in 1995 impacted the ability of incumbents to run for office was in 2007.


See also: Redistricting in Louisiana

In Louisiana, the state legislature has control over the redistricting process. The redistricted maps are introduced as bills in the Senate and the House, and can be vetoed by the governor for any reason. Louisiana faces special scrutiny under the Voting Rights Act as a state with a history of using district lines as tools of racial discrimination, so all maps must be reviewed and preapproved by the U.S. Department of Justice before use.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Louisiana had the third-slowest growth rate of any state in the nation between 2000 and 2010. Only Rhode Island and Michigan experienced smaller positive population gains during this time period (notably, Michigan experienced an overall decrease in population). Louisiana grew 1.4 percent from 2000 to 2010, with a total population rise from 4.47 million in 2000 to 4.53 million in 2010. Notably, the South as a region experienced overall growth of 14.29 percent.[22][23] Hurricane Katrina's impact caused enough people to move out of state to cost Louisiana a Congressional District. The population shifts also substantially affected state legislative districts, including the largely African-American city of New Orleans.[24]

During the redistricting process, Louisiana legislators faced a compressed timeline compared to other states. The odd year elections meant that the 2011 elections in the fall would need districts soon enough to gain clearance from the Department of Justice per the Voting Rights Act, allow candidates to file in the appropriate districts, and leave time for the Blanket primary and the general election to happen in early November 2011.

The state Senate added two new majority-minority district for the 2011 elections, but took away seats from the New Orleans area overall, reflecting the loss of population in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The new Senate map included 11 majority-minority districts.


Partisan composition

See also: Partisan composition of state senates
Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 13
     Republican Party 26
Total 39

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


The President and President Pro Tempore of the Senate are elected by the full body, needing at least 20 votes for confirmation. The President is the presiding officer of the body, whose duties include preserving order, calling votes, appointing/removing members of each Senate and conference committee, and approving all expenditures of the Senate. In the absence of the President, the President Pro Tempore assumes all duties of the position.[25]

Current leadership

Current Leadership, Louisiana State Senate
Office Representative Party
President of the Senate John Alario Ends.png Republican
President Pro Tempore Sharon Weston Broome Electiondot.png Democratic


See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the Louisiana legislature are paid $16,800/year. Additionally, legislators receive $6,000/year for expenses and $149/day per diem tied to the federal rate.[26]


Louisiana does not provide pensions for legislators who took office after 1996.[27]

When sworn in

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

Louisiana legislators assume office at noon on the second Monday in January after their election.

Current members

Current members, Louisiana State Senate
District Senator Party Assumed office
1 A.G. Crowe Ends.png Republican 2008
2 Troy Brown Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
3 Jean-Paul J. Morrell Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
4 Edwin Murray Electiondot.png Democratic 2005
5 Karen Peterson Electiondot.png Democratic 2010
6 Mack White Jr. Ends.png Republican 2012
7 David Heitmeier Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
8 John Alario Ends.png Republican 2008
9 Conrad Appel Ends.png Republican 2008
10 Daniel Martiny Ends.png Republican 2008
11 Jack Donahue Ends.png Republican 2008
12 Ben Nevers Electiondot.png Democratic 2003
13 Dale M. Erdey Ends.png Republican 2008
14 Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
15 Sharon Weston Broome Electiondot.png Democratic 2005
16 Dan Claitor Ends.png Republican 2009
17 Rick Ward III Ends.png Republican 2012
18 Jody Amedee Ends.png Republican 2003
19 Gary Smith, Jr. Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
20 Norby Chabert Ends.png Republican 2009
21 R.L. Allain II Ends.png Republican 2012
22 Fred Mills, Jr. Ends.png Republican 2011
23 Patrick Cortez Ends.png Republican 2012
24 Elbert Guillory Ends.png Republican 2009
25 Dan Morrish Ends.png Republican 2008
26 Jonathan Perry Ends.png Republican 2011
27 Ronnie Johns Ends.png Republican 2012
28 Eric LaFleur Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
29 Richard Gallot, Jr. Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
30 John R. Smith Ends.png Republican 2008
31 Gerald Long Ends.png Republican 2008
32 Neil Riser Ends.png Republican 2008
33 Mike Walsworth Ends.png Republican 2008
34 Francis C. Thompson Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
35 Robert Kostelka Ends.png Republican 2003
36 Robert Adley Ends.png Republican 2003
37 Barrow Peacock Ends.png Republican 2012
38 Sherri Smith Buffington Ends.png Republican 2003
39 Gregory Tarver Electiondot.png Democratic 2012

Standing Senate Committees

There are 17 standing committees in the Louisiana Senate. These committees are comprised of seven members with the exception of two committees, the Finance Committee and the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee, which have 11 each. It is under the discretion of the Senate President to appoint and remove members of a committee.


Partisan balance 1992-2013

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

From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Louisiana State Senate for 19 years while the Republicans were the majority for three years. The Louisiana State Senate is one of 16 state senates that were Democratic for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992 and 2013. The final three years of the study depicted a shift in the Louisiana Senate with all three years showing 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 Louisiana, the Louisiana State Senate and the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Louisiana state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Kentucky 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. Louisiana has had three periods of trifectas, two Democratic trifectas (1992-1995 and 2004-2007) and one Republican trifecta (2011-2013). Louisiana had its longest period of divided government between 1996 and 2003. For all but two years of the study, Louisiana has ranked in the bottom 10 in the SQLI ranking and only left the bottom 10 in the last two years of the study, 2011 and 2012. The state’s lowest ranking came in 1993 and 1994 under a Democratic trifecta. Its highest ranking (36th) came in 2012 under a Republican trifecta.

  • SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 46.25
  • SQLI average with Republican trifecta: 38.00
  • SQLI average with divided government: 45.73
Chart displaying the partisanship of Louisiana government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1, "About the Legislature," accessed December 16, 2013
  2. U.S. Census Bureau, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," April 2011
  3. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
  4. Associated Press, "Jindal pushes worker training as legislative session opens," March 10, 2014
  5. American Press, "Education, lawsuit key issues," March 9, 2014
  6., "A look at major issues at session's halfway point," April 24, 2013(dead link)
  7. Louisiana State Senate, "2011 Regular Session," accessed July 10, 2014
  8. Louisiana State Senate, "2011 1st Extraordinary Session," accessed July 10, 2014
  9. Louisiana State Senate, "2010 Regular Session," accessed July 10, 2014
  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. The Thicket, "Why do Four States Have Odd-Year Elections?," August 25, 2011
  16. Follow the Money, "Louisiana 2011 Candidates," accessed August 23, 2013
  17. Follow the Money, "Louisiana 2007 Candidates," accessed July 10, 2014
  18. Follow the Money, "Louisiana 2003 Candidates," accessed August 23, 2013
  19. Follow the Money, "Louisiana 1999 Candidates," accessed August 23, 2013
  20. Louisiana Secretary of State, "Qualify for an Election," accessed December 16, 2013
  21. Louisiana Legislature, "Louisiana Election Code," accessed December 16, 2013 (Referenced Statute 18:601, Louisiana Statutes)
  22. Ruston Daily Leader, "Loss of one congressional seat a result of low population growth in state," accessed December 31, 2010
  23. U.S. Census Bureau, "Population Distribution and Change," March 2011
  24. New Orleans Times Picayune, "Redistricting is expected to cost New Orleans three districts in the Louisiana House of Representatives," January 19, 2011
  25. Louisiana State Senate, "Rules of Order - Chapter 3: Officers," accessed July 10, 2014
  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