State Legislative Tracker: Florida Legislative Session Preview

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March 4, 2013

Edited by Joel Williams
This week's tracker features a partisan count update and a look at the business facing the Florida State Legislature.

Weekly highlight

As of today, 49 states have kicked off 2013 sessions. Here is an overview of Florida's agenda as it convenes this week:[1]

  • Election Reform: Lawmakers are targeting a 2011 election bill for reform after the state saw hours-long lines at polling stations in its most populous county and was ultimately the last state to declare a Presidential winner. Initial proposals include expanding the early voting period to 14 days, allowing early voting the Sunday before elections, and allowing county supervisors to select their own early voting locations. Additional avenues of reform being pursued are limiting the summaries for constitutional amendments on ballots, raising campaign contribution limits, and eliminating fundraising groups known as Committees of Continuous Existence.
  • Education Spending: Legislators are hoping to increase pay for teachers with this year's new appropriations bill. Gov. Rick Scott has already proposed his own education budget, including $1.2 billion in additional money for K-12 schools, a $2,500 salary increase for teachers, and almost $400 million for state universities. Lawmakers have show a preference for merit-based pay increases for teachers instead, but any pay raise would be welcome by Florida teachers, who have not seen a raise in nearly six years.
  • Healthcare: One of the first orders of business in the new session will be Medicaid expansion. Although he initially opposed the expansion of Medicaid as part of the federal health care reform law, Gov. Scott has recently shown support for expansion. The Senate has shown more support for a bill, while House leadership remains unsupportive. Florida's Medicaid program currently costs $21 billion and supports around 3 million citizens.
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As of today, March 4, 2013, the following figures represent the cumulative partisan breakdown of the 50 state senates and 49 state houses. In the 50 states, Republicans currently control 51.6% of all seats while Democrats hold 46.9%. All told, Republicans control 57 chambers while Democrats are the majority in 40 chambers. One chamber is tied, while one is nonpartisan.


Representation in 50 State Legislatures
Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state legislators 3,471 46.9%
Republican state legislators 3,815 51.6%
Independent (and nonpartisan) state legislators 67 0.91%
Third party (and non-voting) legislators 11 0.15%
Vacancies 29 0.39%

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 1,971 state senators.

As of March 4, 2013, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

See also: Partisan composition of state houses

Cumulative numbers

As of March 4, 2013, 1,916 state senators are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state senators 895 45.2%
Republican state senators 1,021 51.5%
Nonpartisan state senators 49 2.47%
Independent state senators 4 0.2%
Third Party state senators 2 0.1%
Vacancies 9 0.45%

Vacancies

There are 9 state senate vacancies in 6 states as of March 4, 2013.

State Vacancies
Alabama 1
California 2
Massachusetts 1
Michigan 1
Mississippi 2
Nevada 2

Independents

There are 6 state senators in 5 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Representative as of March 4, 2013. They are as follows:

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

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 5,413 state representatives.

As of March 4, 2013, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

  • Democratic Party 20 chambers
  • Republican Party 29 chambers

Cumulative numbers

As of March 4, 2013, 5,370 state representatives are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state representatives 2,576 47.6%
Republican state representatives 2,794 51.6%
Independent state representatives 14 0.26%
Third party (and non-voting) representatives 9 0.17%
Vacancies 20 0.37%

Vacancies

There are 20 state house vacancies in 10 different states as of March 4, 2013. They are as follows:

State Vacancies
Alabama 2
Georgia 1
Massachusetts 3
Mississippi 2
Missouri 2
New Hampshire 3
Oklahoma 2
Pennsylvania 3
Texas 1
Wisconsin 1

Independents

There are 23 state representatives in 9 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Representative as of March 4, 2013. They are as follows:

State Independents/Third Party
Arizona 1 (Independent)
Arkansas 1 (Green)
Georgia 1 (Independent)
Louisiana 2 (Independent)
Maine 6 (2 non-voting Native American representatives, 4 Independent)
Michigan 1 (Independent)
Tennessee 1 (Carter County Republican)
Vermont 9 (5 Vermont Progressive Party, 4 Independent)
Virginia 1 (Independent)

Regular sessions

Current sessions capture for the week of March 4, 2013
See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2013 session information.

Currently 48 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. One state, California, is meeting in special session concurrent with their regular session. One state has yet to begin its 2013 sessions. Louisiana will convene April 8.

The following states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions:[2]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, March 4, 2013
There are 7,384 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,461 (46.9%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,816 (51.7%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 40
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 57
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 2
2013 Session Information
Total Special Elections 18
Total Special Sessions 1

There is one special session ongoing this week in California. No additional special sessions have been scheduled.

California

During his State of the State address on January 24, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) called for the Legislature to hold a special session concurrent with the regular session in order to bring the state in compliance with the federal Affordable Care Act. The special session began January 28 and is expected to last for several months.[3][4]

In recess

As of today, March 4, 1 state's session is currently in recess:

Redistricting Roundup.jpg

State news

Redistricting Facts
Maps submitted for vote: 138 out of 142 (97.2%)** No votes on initial maps in the following: ME (2), MT (2)
States that have completed Congressional Maps 42/43 (Maps ordered redrawn: TX)
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 45/50 (Maps unfinished: ME, MT; Maps ordered redrawn: AK, KY, TX)
**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)
See also: Status of redistricting maps after the 2010 census

While the great majority of states have completed their redistricting following the 2010 census, the issue still remains for a handful of states. Maine and Montana are not required to have their maps completed until 2014. Alaska, Kentucky and Texas, however, saw their maps rejected for legal reasons and will have to take up the drawing of maps once again.

Redistricting in Kentucky

See also: Redistricting in Kentucky

The Kentucky House of Representatives is pushing to get a redistricting bill introduced before the legislative session closes in nine business days. The bill, crafted by the House State Government Committee and presented by Chair Brent Yonts (R) was approved by leadership on March 1, and will be presented to the full chamber on March 4.[6][7]

Redistricting in South Carolina

See also: Redistricting in South Carolina

South Carolina has filed court papers as part of the Shelby Count, Alabama Supreme Court Case. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson filed in support of Shelby County, stating that "[t]reating states differently no longer serves the act's purpose of eradicating voter discrimination for all United States citizens. Section 5 was an important and necessary part of the effort to end voter discrimination in this country, but has now outlived its purpose."[8]

See also: State legislative elections, 2013

A total of 3 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 5, 2013.

The 3 chambers with elections in 2013 are in 2 states. They are:

Louisiana and Mississippi also typically hold elections in odd years. However, legislators are elected to 4-year terms in those states and those will not be up for election again until 2015.

40 of the country's 1,972 state senate seats are up for re-election in November 2013, and 180 of the country's 5,411 state house seats are up for re-election. Altogether, 220 of the country's 7,383 state legislative seats are up for re-election on November 5, 2013.

Signature filing deadlines

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2013 state legislative elections

The state legislative filing deadlines are as follows:

  • New Jersey:
  • April 1, 2013 (Major party)
  • June 4, 2013 (Independent)

Nomination petitions must contain the signatures of at least 100 voters in the legislative district. Candidates are required to disclose any criminal convictions.[9]

  • Virginia:
  • March 28, 2013 (Major party)
  • June 11, 2013 (Independent)

Nomination petitions must contain the signatures of at least 125 qualified voters in the legislative district. Major party candidates are required to submit a primary filing fee equal to 2% of the annual salary for the office sought in effect in the year in which the candidate files. In 2013, the primary filing fee is $352.80.[10]

Primaries

The state primaries are as follows:

  • New Jersey:
  • June 4, 2013
  • Virginia:
  • June 11, 2013

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See also: State legislative special elections, 2013

There is one special election taking place this week in Georgia

Alabama House of Representatives District 71

Robert Stokely (R) won election to Georgia House of Representatives District 71 on November 6, 2012. However, on December 14, he stated he would not be accepting the position in order to serve as a Coweta County Magistrate Judge instead. A special election to fill the seat was held February 5. Candidates had until January 9 to qualify. As no candidate won 50 percent of the vote, the top two-vote-getters - Thomas G. Crymes and David J. Stover - will face off in a runoff on March 5.[11][12][13]

General election candidates:
Republican Party Thomas G. Crymes Approveda
Republican Party Michael Farbo, Jr.
Republican Party Darryl Marmon
Republican Party David J. Stover Approveda
Republican Party Richard Weisser
Democratic Party Cynthia Conradt Bennett
March 5 runoff election candidates:
Republican Party Thomas G. Crymes
Republican Party David J. Stover

Recent results

February 26, 2013

RunoffArrow.jpg Alabama House of Representatives District 97
Yvonne Kennedy (D) died on December 8, 2012. Gov. Robert Bentley (R) scheduled a special election to fill the vacancy, with a primary on February 26, 2013. However, since no Republican candidates filed, the primary becomes the general election. As no candidate took over 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters - Karlos Finley and Adline C. Clarke - will meet in a runoff on April 9.[14][15]

CheckedBoxOffset.jpgRunoffArrow.jpg Mississippi State Senate District 28
Alice Harden (D) died on December 6, 2012. A special election to fill her District 28 seat in the Mississippi State Senate took place on February 5, 2013. Candidates had until January 7 to file. special elections in Mississippi are nonpartisan. As no candidate took over 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters - Marshand Crisler and Sollie B. Norwood - met in a runoff on February 26, which Norwood won.[16][17][18][19][20]

March 2, 2013

CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Louisiana House of Representatives District 65
Clif Richardson (R) announced in November 2012 that he would resign his District 65 seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives effective January 2, 2013. Richardson said he was resigning due to health issues. Speaker of the House Chuck Kleckley (R) called for a special election to be held for the seat on March 2, 2013, with a runoff, if necessary on April 6, 2013. Candidates had until January 11 to file. Barry Ivey (R) defeated Scott Wilson (R) in the special election.[21][22]

CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Louisiana House of Representatives District 79
Anthony Ligi (R) announced on December 14, 2012 that he would resign his District 79 seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives effective January 1, 2013. Ligi is resigning to become executive director and chief legal counsel for the Jefferson Business Council. Speaker of the House Chuck Kleckley (R) called for a special elected to be held for the seat on March 2, 2013, with a runoff election, if necessary, on April 6, 2013. Candidates had until January 11 to file. Julie Stokes (R) defeated three other Republicans in the special election.[23][24]

CheckedBoxOffset.jpgRunoffArrow.jpg Texas State Senate District 6
Mario Gallegos (D) died of liver failure in October 2012. However, he ran for re-election and his name remained on the ballot. He was re-elected on November 6, 2012, triggering a special election to fill the seat. The special election was held January 26, 2013. With eight candidates, it looked likely that a runoff for the top-two vote getters would be necessary, and indeed that is what happened. Democrats Sylvia Garcia and Carol Alvarado met in a runoff on March 2, which Garcia won.[25][26][27][28][29][30][31]

Links/References

  1. Ocala.com, "Lawmakers face a host of issues when legislative session begins Tuesday," March 3, 2013
  2. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed March 4, 2013
  3. Los Angeles Times, "Gov. Jerry Brown calls for special session of Legislature on healthcare," January 24, 2013
  4. Sacramento Business Journal, " Healthcare reform special session starts," January 28, 2013
  5. State Scape, "Session schedules," accessed February 25, 2013
  6. Courier-Journal.com, "Redistricting plan to get final push in Kentucky Legislative session," February 28, 2013
  7. Fort Mill Times, "House panel set to review redistricting proposal," March 4, 2013
  8. WLTX.com, "SC to Argue Before Supreme Ct. on Voting Rights," March 4, 2013
  9. New Jersey Department of State, "Petition filing instruction sheet," accessed January 14, 2013
  10. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidacy Requirements for House of Delegates," accessed January 16, 2013
  11. The Citizen, "Stokely turns down House seat for local appointment," December 23, 2012
  12. Georgia Secretary of State, "CANDIDATE QUALIFICATION COMPLETE IN SPECIAL ELECTION FOR STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 71," January 10, 2013
  13. Times Herald, "State Representative Special Election: Stover, Crymes set for runoff," February 6, 2013
  14. AL.com, "Gov. Bentley sets special election for House District 97 seat," December 18, 2012
  15. Alabama Secretary of State, " Certification of candidates for District 97," accessed January 17, 2013
  16. Clarion Ledger, "Sollie Norwood Defeats Marshand Crisler In Special Election For State Senate," February 26, 2013
  17. Clarion Ledger, "State Sen. Alice Harden dies at 64," December 6, 2012
  18. Clarion Ledger, "Bryant sets Senate 28 special election," December 18, 2012
  19. Mississippi Secretary of State, " 2013 candidate qualifying list," accessed January 11, 2013
  20. Fox 10tv.com, "Runoff scheduled in Senate District 28," February 6, 2013
  21. Post South, "Speaker calls special election due to resignation of Representative Richardson," November 19, 2012
  22. Nola.com, "Baton Rouge businessman Barry Ivey wins special House election," March 2, 2013
  23. Post South, "Speaker calls special election due to resignation of Representative Richardson," November 19, 2012
  24. WWLTV, "Voters send Julie Stokes to state House in Dist. 79 special election," March 2, 2013
  25. Chron.com, "Bitter District 6 race ends with Saturday runoff," February 26, 2013
  26. Dallas Morning News, "Houston special election for late state senator’s seat heading into runoff," January 26, 2013
  27. Texas Tribune, "Packed Field Could Mean a Runoff in SD-6," January 2, 2013
  28. The Republic, "Alvarado, Garcia, Bray vying to replace deceased Gallegos in Texas Senate special election," November 12, 2012
  29. The Dallas Morning News, "Governor sets special election for senate seat in Houston area," December 13, 2012
  30. Your Houston News, " Third candidate joins race for late Senator seat," December 28, 2012
  31. KHOU.com, "Garcia wins special runoff election for state Senate seat," March 2, 2013

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • March 5: Georgia House of Representatives Districts 71 (runoff)
  • March 12: Alabama State Senate District 35 (runoff)
  • March 12: California State Senate Districts 32 and 40
  • March 12: Mississippi House of Representatives District 36
  • March 12: South Carolina House of Representatives District 17
  • March 16: New Hampshire House of Representatives Hillsborough 9
  • March 26: Mississippi House of Representatives District 11

See also

References