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State Legislative Tracker: Busy week ahead as five states hold primaries and candidates file in four

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June 4, 2012

Edited by Greg Janetka

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This week's tracker features a sessions update and an overview of the busy upcoming week's candidate filings and primary elections.


This week 13 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. As of May 16, all states had convened their 2012 sessions. Louisiana, New Hampshire and South Carolina are projected to adjourn this week.

Thirty-one states have adjourned for the year, while four states - Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas - will not hold regular sessions in 2012.

Regular sessions

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

All states have convened their regular 2012 legislative sessions:

The following states have ended their regular session:

Click here to see a chart of each state's 2012 session information.

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, June 4, 2012
There are 7,384 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,304 (44.7%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,968 (53.7%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 36
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 58
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 5
2012 Session Information
Total Special Elections 25
Total Special Sessions 12

In 2011, special sessions were a widespread occurrence in state legislatures. This was largely due to states' having to complete the redistricting process for legislative and congressional districts. Overall in 2011, there were 45 special sessions in 28 states.

Since the beginning of 2012, there have been 12 special sessions in 10 states. None are currently ongoing. The next is slated to begin in Connecticut on June 12.


A special session will take place on June 12 in order to approve the language of the new budget which goes into effect on July 1. It is also possible that several bills which died during the session could be revisited, including a proposal to increase the minimum wage as well as a job promotion bill.[1]

Last Friday, Speaker of the House Chris Donovan's (D) campaign manager announced Donovan would temporarily step down from his leadership role during the special session. Donovan's campaign has recently been the target of an FBI investigation and saw his campaign's finance director arrested on May 31 on charges of concealing campaign contributions.[2]


A special session looks likely in Illinois as the legislature finished their spring session without passing a plan to address pension reform. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) said he would be meeting with legislative leaders soon in order to determine the date.[3]


Maryland, which already held a special session in May, may have another one the week of July 9. An 11-member work group is trying to reach consensus on a plan to expand gambling in the state. If successful, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) said he will call the legislature into session to address the issue. The workgroup is chaired by John Morton III, a business and financial services executive. Other members include four of the governor's staff, three senators appointed by Senate President Thomas Mike Miller, Jr. (Maryland) (D) and three representatives appointed by Speaker of the House Michael Busch (D).[4]


State Sen. Mike Stack (D) is currently circulating petitions that would call a special session this summer to deal with transportation issues. In order to be called, half the members of each chamber must sign, along with Gov. Tom Corbett (R).[5]

In recess

As of today, June 4, 2 state's sessions are currently in recess:

State news

Redistricting Facts
Maps submitted for vote: 137 out of 142 (96.5%)** No votes on initial maps in the following: KS (1), ME (2), MT (2)
States that have completed Congressional Maps 42/43 (Maps unfinished: KS)
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 45/50 (Maps unfinished: AL, KS, ME, MS, MT)
**With 50 states, there are 142 possible maps. 50 State Senate, 49 State House (No House in Nebraska), and 43 Congressional (7 states have 1 seat)


On May 30, the trial concluded in Kansas' federal redistricting lawsuit. A panel of three federal judges will now deliberate on how to draw the state's legislative, congressional, and Board of Education maps. Secretary of State Kris Kobach has advised the court to complete their work by June 20 in order to avoid delaying the August 7 primary election. Nathan Persily, a redistricting expert and consultant in four judicial redistricting efforts, suggested that the court's timeline may be overly ambitious. He also noted that acceptable deviations for court-drawn maps are often stricter than those for legislatively-drawn maps.[8][9]

See also: State legislative elections, 2012 and State legislative elections results, 2012
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A total of 86 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 6, 2012.

1,272 (64.5%) of the country's 1,971 state senate seats are up for election in November 2012, and 4,712 (87.05%) of the country's 5,413 state house seats are up for election. Altogether, 5,984 (81.04%) of the country's 7,384 state legislative seats will be up for election during the presidential election year.

  • 43 of the 50 state senates are holding elections.
  • 43 of the 49 state houses are holding elections.

The 5,984 seats up for election is 141 fewer than the 6,125 that were contested in 2010.

Filing deadlines

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 state government elections and 2012 Elections preview: Comparing state legislative filing deadlines

Four states - Hawaii, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Florida - have their signature filing deadlines this week.

So far, deadlines have passed in 33 states:

States with upcoming deadlines:


See also: 2012 election dates

State legislative primaries taking place this week: California, Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota

So far, primaries have taken place in 12 states:

A total of 34 state legislative incumbents have been defeated in a primary.

States with upcoming primaries:

Currently, 18 states permit the recall of state officials. Between 1913 and 2008, there were just 20 state legislative recall elections in five states. Of the 20 state legislative recall elections, 13 out of 20 resulted in the state legislator being recalled. In 2011, there were 11 state legislative recalls in three states, 4 of which resulted in the legislator being recalled. In 2012, there are currently 4 scheduled state legislative recalls.


2011 saw a wave of recall attempts in Michigan. While most of those efforts dried up, at least two campaigns continued on (the recall of Paul Scott was successful on November 8, 2011). Organizers of the campaigns to recall Bruce Caswell (R) and Phil Pavlov (R) set their sights on the August 2012 ballot, but in April organizers of the Pavlov recall announced they did not have enough signatures and were abandoning their efforts.[10] The Caswell campaign remains active.


See also: Timeline of events of the recall of Wisconsin State Senators in 2012

Recalls against four Republican state senators take place tomorrow. The primary took place on May 8.[11] The Senate is currently tied 16-16, with one vacancy. Thus, the recalls will determine who controls the chamber.[12]

Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 14
     Republican Party 18
     Vacancy 1
Total 33

Democrats in Wisconsin filed recall petitions on November 15, 2011 against four Republican state senators - Pam Galloway, Scott Fitzgerald, Terry Moulton and Van Wanggaard.[13] Campaign organizers turned in more than the necessary number of signatures in each of the four races on January 17, 2012.

The Republican Party ran protest candidates (Republicans who ran as Democrats) in each of the primaries in order to ensure all recalls would take place on the same date. The "fake" candidates were all defeated, taking between 27.9 and 35.8 percent.

Matchups for tomorrow's recalls are as follows:

District 13 - Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R) vs. Democrat Lori Compas, an organizer of the recall, and Libertarian Terry Virgil.
District 21 - Sen. Van Wanggaard (R) vs. former state Sen. John Lehman (D).
District 23 - Sen. Terry Moulton (R) vs. former Democratic state legislator Kristen Dexter.
District 29 - Sen. Pam Galloway (R) - Galloway resigned, but the recall against her continues as scheduled. State Rep. Jerry Petrowski (R) is running in her place and will face Democratic state Rep. Donna Seidel.
See also: State legislative special elections, 2012

There are no special elections scheduled to take place this week.

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • July 17: South Carolina Senate District 41
  • July 24: South Carolina House District 68
  • August 7: Pennsylvania Senate District 40
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 16
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 26
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 68

See also