State Legislative Tracker: California senator convicted

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February 3, 2014

Edited by Joel Williams
This week’s tracker includes a partisan count update and a look at legislators in legal trouble.

Weekly highlight

Last week, Illinois began its legislative session. Here is a brief look at issues making headlines across the country:

  • California: A jury this week found State Sen. Roderick Wright (D) guilty on eight felony counts of perjury and voter fraud—more than three years after a grand jury indicted the lawmaker on allegations that he incorrectly reported his legal address of residence when he sought his state senate seat in 2008. When Wright registered to vote on March 14, 2007, he listed his address as a four-plex in Inglewood. The issue of residency was a campaign issue in the heavily-contested June 2008 primary election. The residency of contender Mervyn Dymally and of Wright were questioned because the candidates owned homes both in the district, and in more affluent areas outside of the district. Wright was indicted on eight criminal counts in September 2010, following an investigation by the district attorney’s office. The D.A. successfully argued that Wright lied about his residency in order to run for the Senate seat. The jury’s conviction on January 28, 2014, carries a maximum sentence of eight years, however, Deputy District Attorney Bjorn Dodd has told media sources that it is “extremely unlikely” that Wright will receive significant custody time. Without a minimum sentencing requirement, Wright could very well face probation, Dodd said. A sentencing hearing has been set for March 12. Although Wright will not automatically lose his seat as a result of the verdict, Sen. Richard Roth (D), chairman of the Senate’s Legislative Ethics Committee, has told media sources that Wright should be removed from office if the felony charges are not overturned following a planned appeal. “I certainly think that if the appellate process has been exhausted and the verdict is upheld on appeal that his service in the Senate would undoubtedly need to terminate,” Roth stated. The removal of a sitting Senator from office requires a two-thirds vote by the Senate or a recall petition from Wright’s constituents.[1][2][3][4][5][6]
  • Illinois and Utah: Two lawmakers moved to make ‘revenge porn’ illegal in their states this week. State Sen. Michael Hastings (D) of Illinois sponsored legislation this week that would make posting revenge porn a felony in that state. Rep. Marie Poulson (D) introduced H.B. 71 which would make the act a third degree felony in Utah. Revenge porn, also called involuntary porn, are personal photos that are posted without the permission of the person who was photographed. In some cases these photos are posted with personal information, such as the workplace, address or contact information of the person in that photo. These pictures have also been stolen from other people’s computers and posted unknowingly. Current law allows victims to sue for damages under the Communications Decency Act. The bill introduced in Illinois, however, would make posting these pictures punishable by up to three years in jail and a $25,000 fine. In Utah, a third degree felony carries up to five years in jail and up to $5,000 in fines. Currently, New Jersey and California have laws against revenge porn and thirteen other states are expected to look at passing similar laws this year.[7][8][9][10][11][12]
  • Indiana: The proposed constitutional amendment reinforcing Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage is moving on to the Indiana State Senate, but revised language has put the chances of its appearance on this year's ballot at risk. Last Monday, the House voted to amend HJR-3, which if passed by the Senate as-is would reset the process by which the constitutional amendment advances to the ballot. By a vote of 52-43, the amendment's second sentence banning the state from imposing a legal status substantially similar to marriage, such as civil unions, was removed. Twenty-three Republicans and 29 Democrats made up the 'yes' vote, joining together skeptics of the second sentence and opponents of the entire measure. The revised amendment was then approved 57-40 the next day. The second sentence caused alarm among Indiana employers including Eli Lilly, Indiana University and Cummins, who voiced concern that it would prevent them from granting benefits to same-sex couples. The day of the vote to amend, the Indianapolis Bar Association, which had not surveyed its members on a policy issue in two decades, came out against the amendment, stating that "the regulation of [the state's] individual citizens" through constitutional language was unprecedented, and that "uncertainty" about the second sentence would lead to expensive judicial gridlock. If the Senate passes the amendment without reinstating the original language, the issue will not be decided by voters until the 2016 general election at the earliest, as constitutional amendments are required to be passed by two consecutive General Assemblies before placement on the ballot. Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R) said that his chamber "probably would honor" the House's move to amend the amendment, but noted that the original language could be reinstated, requiring another vote by the House. HJR-3 is expected to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee next week.[13][14][15][16][17][18]
  • Pennsylvania: Rep. Jose Miranda (D) of District 197 and his sister, Michelle Wilson, were charged with criminal conspiracy, perjury and conflict of interest on January 27, 2014, by the Philadelphia district attorney. According to D.A. Seth Williams, Miranda and Wilson allegedly conspired together to circumvent the rules and ethics code of the House Democratic Caucus. To circumvent state nepotism laws, Miranda allegedly hired a ghost (non-working) employee so that his sister could continue to work as his chief of staff. Timothy Duckett, a former driver for Miranda's campaign and a part-time auto mechanic, was hired by Miranda to work as an legislative assistant but did not require him to do any work. Duckett was ordered by Miranda to give part of his salary to Wilson, while Wilson continued to work as Miranda's chief of staff. The D.A. said of the sister's actions that "his sister...still in many ways exhibited dominion, control over the legislative office and policies of State Representative Jose Miranda." In all, Duckett allegedly gave $2,600 in cash to Wilson. On January 29, 2014, Miranda and his sister were released from custody after their arraignment. They will next face a preliminary hearing scheduled for February 4. If found guilty of the charges, Miranda will be removed from office, and he and his sister could face up to 17 years in prison and a $35,000 fine.[19][20][21][22][23]
[edit]

As of today, February 3, 2014, the following figures represent the cumulative partisan breakdown of the 50 state senates and 49 state houses. In the 50 states, Republicans currently control 51.7% of all seats while Democrats hold 46.5%. All told, Republicans control 57 chambers while Democrats are the majority in 41 chambers. One chamber is non-partisan.


Representation in 50 State Legislatures
Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state legislators 3,438 46.5%
Republican state legislators 3,823 51.8%
Independent (and non-partisan) state legislators 66 0.89%
Third party (and non-voting) legislators 12 0.16%
Vacancies 37 0.50%

State Senates

The partisan composition of state senates refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in the state senate. Altogether, in the 50 state senates, there are 1,972 state senators.

As of January 21, 2014, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

See also: Partisan composition of state houses

Cumulative numbers

As of April 7, 2014, 1,905 state senators are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state senators 873 44.3%
Republican state senators 1,032 52.3%
Non-partisan state senators 49 2.48%
Independent state senators 4 0.2%
Third Party state senators 2 0.1%
Vacancies 12 0.61%

Vacancies

As of April 7, 2014, there are 12 vacancies in 9 states.

State Vacancies
Arizona 1
California 1
Massachusetts 1
Missouri 2
New York 2
North Carolina 1
Texas 1
Vermont 1
Washington 2

Independents

As of April 7, 2014, there are 6 state senators in 5 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Republican.

State Independents/Third Party
Alabama 1 (Independent)
Kentucky 1 (Independent)
Maine 1 (Independent)
Rhode Island 1 (Independent)
Vermont 2 (Vermont Progressive)

State Houses

The partisan composition of state houses refers to which party holds the majority of seats in the state house or the lower level of each state legislature. Altogether, in the 49 state houses, there are 5,415 state representatives.

As of January 21, 2014, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

  • Democratic Party 20 chambers
  • Republican Party 29 chambers

Cumulative numbers

As of April 7, 2014, 5,360 state representatives are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state representatives 2,562 47.4%
Republican state representatives 2,798 51.6%
Independent state representatives 13 0.24%
Third party (and non-voting) representatives 10 0.18%
Vacancies 30 0.55%

Vacancies

As of April 7, 2014, there are 30 state house vacancies in 13 different states.

State Vacancies
Alabama 1
Connecticut 2
Florida 1
Illinois 1
Massachusetts 5
Missouri 3
Montana 1
Nevada 1
New Hampshire 1
New York 10
Utah 1
Vermont 1
Washington 2

Independents

As of April 7, 2014, there are 23 state representatives in 9 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Republican.

State Independents/Third Party
Alabama 1 (Independent)
Arkansas 1 (Green)
Georgia 1 (Independent)
Louisiana 2 (Independent)
Maine 7 (3 non-voting Native American representatives, 4 Independent)
Michigan 1 (Independent)
Tennessee 1 (Carter County Republican)
Vermont 9 (5 Vermont Progressive Party, 4 Independent)

Regular sessions

Current sessions capture for the week of February 3, 2014
See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2014 session information.

Currently 38 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. One state, Wisconsin, is meeting in special session.

The following states have convened their 2014 regular session:[24]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
There are 7,387 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,435 (46.5%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,830 (51.9%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 41
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 57
Total tied or non-partisan chambers 1
2014 Session Information
Total Special Elections 9
Total Special Sessions 1
Wisconsin

Gov. Scott Walker (R) called the legislature into special session on January 22. Walker asked the legislature to find a way to fund $500 million worth of property and income tax cuts.[25]

In recess

As of today, February 3, there are no state legislatures currently in recess.[26]

See also: State legislative elections, 2014

A total of 87 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 4, 2014.

The 87 chambers with elections in 2014 are in 46 states. They are:

The Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico and South Carolina senates also typically hold elections in odd years. However, senators are elected to 4-year terms in those states and those will not be up for election again until 2015.

1090 of the country's 1,972 state senate seats are up for re-election in November 2014, and 4,958 of the country's 5,415 state house seats are up for re-election. Altogether, 6,048 of the country's 7,387 state legislative seats are up for re-election on November 4, 2014.

Primary Information

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2014 state legislative elections

The state legislative filing deadlines and primary dates are as follows:

Note: Ballot access is a complicated issue. The dates in the table below are primarily for candidates filing for access to the primary. For more detailed information about each state's qualification requirements -- including all relevant ballot access dates for the primary and general election -- click to our detailed pages in the state column.

2014 State Legislative Primary Information
State Filing Deadline Primary Date Days from Deadline to Primary
Alabama Red padlock.png 2/7/2014 6/3/2014 116
Alaska 6/2/2014[27] 8/19/2014 78
Arizona 5/28/2014[28] 8/26/2014 90
Arkansas Red padlock.png 3/3/2014[29][30] 5/20/2014 78
California Red padlock.png 3/7/2014[31][32][33] 6/3/2014 88
Colorado Red padlock.png 3/31/2014[34][35] 6/24/2014 85
Connecticut 5/14/2014[36] 8/12/2014 90
Delaware 7/8/2014 9/9/2014 63
Florida 6/20/2014[37][38] 8/26/2014 67
Georgia Red padlock.png 3/7/2014 5/20/2014 74
Hawaii 6/3/2014[39][40] 8/9/2014 67
Idaho Red padlock.png 3/3/2014 5/20/2014 78
Illinois Red padlock.png 12/2/2013 3/18/2014 106
Indiana Red padlock.png 2/7/2014 5/6/2014 88
Iowa Red padlock.png 3/14/2014 6/3/2014 81
Kansas 6/2/2014 8/5/2014 65
Kentucky Red padlock.png 1/28/2014[41][42] 5/20/2014 112
Maine Red padlock.png 3/17/2014[43] 6/10/2014 85
Maryland Red padlock.png 2/25/2014[44] 6/24/2014 119
Massachusetts 6/3/2014[45] 9/9/2014 98
Michigan 4/22/2014 8/5/2014 105
Minnesota 6/3/2014 8/12/2014 70
Missouri Red padlock.png 3/25/2014 8/5/2014 133
Montana Red padlock.png 3/10/2014 6/3/2014 85
Nebraska Red padlock.png 3/10/2014[41] 5/13/2014 85
Nevada Red padlock.png 3/14/2014 6/10/2014 88
New Hampshire 6/13/2014 9/9/2014 88
New Mexico Red padlock.png 3/11/2014 6/3/2014 119
New York Red padlock.png 4/10/2014 9/9/2014
North Carolina Red padlock.png 2/28/2014 5/6/2014 67
North Dakota Red padlock.png 4/7/2014 6/10/2014 64
Ohio Red padlock.png 2/5/2014 5/6/2014 90
Oklahoma Red padlock.png 4/11/2014 6/24/2014 74
Oregon Red padlock.png 3/11/2014 5/20/2014 70
Pennsylvania Red padlock.png 3/11/2014 5/20/2014 70
Rhode Island 6/25/2014 9/9/2014 76
South Carolina Red padlock.png 3/30/2014 6/10/2014 72
South Dakota Red padlock.png 3/25/2014 6/3/2014 70
Tennessee Red padlock.png 4/3/2014 8/7/2014 126
Texas Red padlock.png 12/9/2013 3/4/2014 85
Utah Red padlock.png 3/20/2014 6/24/2014 96
Vermont 6/12/2014 8/26/2014 75
Washington 5/17/2014 8/5/2014 80
West Virginia Red padlock.png 1/25/2014 5/13/2014 108
Wisconsin 6/2/2014 8/12/2014 71
Wyoming 5/30/2014 8/19/2014 81


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See also: State legislative special elections, 2014

There are four special elections scheduled this week: two in Alabama and two in Georgia. One primary runoff is also taking place in Alabama.

Alabama House of Representatives District 31

See also: Alabama state legislative special elections, 2014

A special election for the position of Alabama House of Representatives District 31 was initially called for January 28, with a primary on December 3, 2013. Because no Democratic candidate filed to run, the Republican primary runoff became the special election. Due to inclement weather, the election was pushed back a week to February 4. Candidates from both major parties had until October 10, 2013, to file certified nomination papers with the Secretary of State. The seat was vacant following Barry Mask's (R) appointment as the new chief executive officer of the Alabama Association of Realtors. Mike Holmes, Jimmy Collier, Michael Griggs and Frank Bertarelli faced off in the Republican primary. As no candidate received more than fifty percent of the vote, the top-two vote-getters - Holmes and Collier - met in the Republican primary runoff on February 4, which Holmes won.[46][47][48][49][50]

Republican Party January 28 GOP runoff:

Alabama House of Representatives District 104

See also: Alabama state legislative special elections, 2014

A special election for the position of Alabama House of Representatives District 104 was initially called for December 3, 2013, with a primary on October 15, 2013. Because a runoff on December 3, 2013, was needed, the special election was scheduled to take place on January 28, 2014, instead. Due to inclement weather, the election was pushed back a week to February 4. The seat was vacant following Jim Barton's (R) resignation on August 7, 2013, to work for the Kinney Capitol Group. Stephen P. Carr, II was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Susan Hightower, Margie Wilcox, Ralph Carmichael, Nathan Davis and Charlie Plyler faced off in the Republican primary. As no candidate received more than fifty percent of the vote, the top-two vote-getters - Wilcox and Hightower - met in the Republican primary runoff on December 3, 2013, which Wilcox won. Margie Wilcox (R) defeated Stephen P. Carr, II (D) in the special election, which took place on February 4.[51][52][53][54][55]

January 28 Special election candidates:

Democratic Party Stephen P. Carr, II
Republican Party Margie Wilcox

Georgia House of Representatives District 2

See also: Georgia state legislative special elections, 2014

A special election for the position of Georgia House of Representatives District 2 was called for January 7, with a runoff if necessary on February 4. The filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was November 20, 2013. The seat was vacant following Jay Neal's (R) resignation to serve as executive director of the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Re-entry. Republicans Neal Florence, Steve Tarvin and Doug Woodruff faced off in the special election, which took place on January 7. As no candidate received more than fifty percent of the vote, the top-two vote-getters - Tarvin and Florence - met in a runoff on February 4, which Tarvin won.[56][57][47][58][59][60][61]

Georgia House of Representatives, District 2, Runoff Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngSteve Tarvin 53.9% 1,925
     Republican Neal Florence 46.1% 1,649
Total Votes 3,574
February 4 Runoff election candidates:
Republican Party Neal Florence
Republican Party Steve Tarvin

Georgia House of Representatives District 22

See also: Georgia state legislative special elections, 2014

A special election for the position of Georgia House of Representatives District 22 was called for January 7, with a runoff if necessary on February 4. The filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was November 20, 2013. The seat was vacant following Calvin Hill's (R) death on October 30, 2013 after a battle with leukemia. Republicans Meagan Biello, Nate Cochran, Jeff Duncan and Sam Moore faced off in the special election, which took place on January 7. As no candidate received more than fifty percent of the vote, the top-two vote-getters - Moore and Biello - met in a runoff on February 4, which Moore won.[62][47][63][64][65][66]

Georgia House of Representatives, District 22, Special Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngSam Moore 57.7% 1,520
     Republican Meagan Biello 42.3% 1,113
Total Votes 2,633
February 4 Runoff election candidates:
Republican Party Meagan Biello
Republican Party Sam Moore

Alabama House of Representatives District 53

See also: Alabama state legislative special elections, 2014

A special election for the position of Alabama House of Representatives District 53 was initially called for January 28, with a primary on December 3, 2013. Because a runoff on January 28, 2014, was required, the special election was scheduled to take place on March 25 instead. Due to inclement weather, the runoff was pushed back a week to February 4. The special election instead took place on April 1. The filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was October 10, 2013. The seat was vacant following Demetrius Newton's (D) death on September 11, 2013. Anthony "Alann" Johnson, Arthur D. Shores Lee, Demetrius C. Newton Jr. and Frank Topping faced off in the Democratic primary. As no candidate received more than fifty percent of the vote, the top-two vote-getters - Johnson and Lee - met in the Democratic primary runoff on February 4, which Johnson won. Willie "W.A." Casey was unopposed in the Republican primary. Anthony "Alann" Johnson (D) defeated Willie "W.A." Casey (R) in the special election, which took place on April 1.[67][47][68][69][70][71]

Democratic Party February 4 Democratic runoff:

Recent election results

January 28, 2014

CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Pennsylvania House of Representatives District 78

See also: Pennsylvania state legislative special elections, 2014

A special election for the position of Pennsylvania House of Representatives District 78 was called for January 28. Candidates were nominated by their party rather than chosen through a primary. The nominating deadline for parties was December 9, 2013. The seat was vacant following Dick Hess's (R) death on September 6, 2013. Jesse Topper (R) defeated Barbara L. Barron (D) in the special election, which took place on January 28, 2014.[72][47][73]

Pennsylvania House of Representatives, District 78, Special Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngJesse Topper 83.3% 4,629
     Democratic Barbara L. Barron 16.7% 925
Total Votes 5,554
January 28 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Barbara L. Barron
Republican Party Jesse Topper Approveda

CheckedBoxOffset.jpgRunoffArrow.jpgTexas House of Representatives District 50

See also: Texas state legislative special elections, 2014

A special election for the position of Texas House of Representatives District 50 was called for November 5, 2013, with a runoff if necessary on January 28, 2014. The filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was September 4, 2013. The seat was vacant following Mark Strama's (D) resignation to lead Google's fiber optics operation in Austin, Texas. Celia Israel (D) and Mike VanDeWalle (R) advanced past Rico Reyes (D) and Jade Chang Sheppard (D) in the special election. Israel defeated VanDeWalle in the runoff election.[74][47][75][76][77]

Texas House of Representatives, District 50, Runoff Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngCelia Israel 59.6% 6,275
     Republican Mike VanDeWalle 40.4% 4,245
Total Votes 10,520
January 28, 2014, Runoff candidates:
Democratic Party Celia Israel Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Mike VanDeWalle

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • February 25: Connecticut State Senate District 10
  • February 25: Rhode Island House of Representatives District 49
  • February 25: Virginia House of Delegates District 100
  • March 18: Pennsylvania State Senate District 28

See also

References

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  2. ‘’Los Angeles Times,’’ “If Sen. Wright lives outside his district, it may not matter,” September 28, 2009
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  4. Los Angeles Times, "Some California legislators bring arrest records to their campaigns," May 5, 2012
  5. LATimes.com, “Wright should leave Senate if conviction stands, ethics chief says,” January 29, 2014
  6. blogs.sacbee.com, "Jury finds Sen. Rod Wright guilty on 8 felony counts," January 28, 2014
  7. “Huffington Post”, “Illinois Lawmaker Takes Aim At ‘Revenge Porn’ Posters and Peddlers With New Proposals,” accessed January 30, 2014
  8. “Deseret News”, “Utah lawmaker looks to criminalize ‘revenge porn’,”
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