State Legislative Tracker: Four States Adjourn

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March 18, 2013

Edited by Joel Williams
This week's tracker takes a look at various controversial bills in state legislatures.

Weekly highlight

As of today, 49 states have kicked off 2013 sessions. Here is an overview of issues making headlines in state legislatures this week:

  • Maryland: Maryland lawmakers are looking to pass marijuana-related legislation in coming weeks, with bills introduced in both chambers. The Senate is set to vote on a bill that would decriminalize possession of up to ten grams of the drug and set a maximum fine of $100, while current laws impose a maximum of ninety days in jail and $500 fine. The House hopes to legalize medicinal marijuana, but debate on other important bills may force the issue to the back burner.[1]
  • Utah: Utah's "Zion Curtain," the practice of pouring alcoholic beverages out of sight of restaurant customers, came under fire in the Utah House of Representatives this week. Although Ryan Wilcox's (R) bill passed the House 63-12, it died in a conference committee when members from the House and Senate could not reach a compromise on the legislation's language. With the legislature now adjourned, the "Zion Curtain" will remain in place for at least another year.[3][4]

Regular sessions

Current sessions capture for the week of March 18, 2013
See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2013 session information.

Currently 41 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:[5]

The following states have ended their regular session:

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, March 18, 2013
There are 7,384 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,461 (46.9%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,820 (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 23
Total Special Sessions 1

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


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.[6][7]

In recess

As of today, March 18, 4 states' sessions are 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 passed its redistricting bill after nearly two hours of debate on March 6, 2013. The plan pits incumbents against each other in six districts, while creating seven open districts. The bill passed 53-46, with the House's 45 Republicans joined by Mitchel Denham, Jr. (D) in voting against the plan. Although the legislation could have been considered by the Senate, it was not introduced before the session ended on March 15. The legislature reconvenes on March 25 and 26 to consider any governor vetoes, but it is unlikely redistricting legislation will be passed at that time.[9][10]

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.[11]

  • 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.[12]


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 taking place this week in New Hampshire:

New Hampshire House of Representatives Hillsborough 9

Rep. Robert B. Thompson (D) resigned his position due to residency issues after moving to Florida the same month he was elected. A special election to fill the vacancy will be held on March 19, 2013.[13][14]

General Election Candidates:
Democratic Party William O'Neil
Republican Party Win Hutchinson

Recent results

March 12, 2013

CheckedBoxOffset.jpg RunoffArrow.jpg Alabama State Senate District 35
Ben Brooks (R) was elected as a circuit judge in Mobile County on November 6, 2012. Once he was sworn into the new position a special election had to be held to fill the vacancy. A special primary was scheduled for January 29, 2013. Candidates had until December 13, 2012 to file. Since no Democrats filed, the primary became the general election. A runoff between the top two vote-getters, Jim Barton and Bill Hightower, took place March 12, which Hightower won.[15][16][17][18]

RunoffArrow.jpg California State Senate District 32
Gloria Negrete McLeod (D) was elected to the 35th Congressional District of California on November 6, 2012. A special election to fill the vacancy has been scheduled for March 12, 2013. Because no candidate received 50 percent of the vote the top two vote-getters - Norma Torres (D) and Paul Leon (R) - will meet in a runoff election on May 14.[19][20][21][22]

CheckedBoxOffset.jpg California State Senate District 40
Juan Vargas (D) was elected to the 51st Congressional District of California on November 6, 2012. A special election to fill the vacancy took place on March 12, 2013, which Ben Hueso (D) won with 52 percent of the vote.[19][23][24][25]

RunoffArrow.jpg Mississippi House of Representatives District 36
Longtime Rep. David Gibbs (D) died in office on January 13, 2013. A special election to fill the vacancy was held March 12, 2013. Candidates had until February 11 to file. As no candidate won 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters - Karl Gibbs and Eddie Longstreet - will meet in a runoff election on April 2. Special elections in Mississippi are nonpartisan.[26][27][28]

CheckedBoxOffset.jpg South Carolina House of Representatives District 17
Tom Corbin (R) resigned his District 17 seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives on November 12, 2012, after he won election to both the House and the state Senate on November 6. A special election was scheduled for March 12, 2013. Candidates had until December 10, 2012 to file. A Republican primary was held on January 11, 2013. Mike Burns missed winning outright by one vote and went to a runoff with Chris Sullivan, which Burns won. Since no write-in Democrat filed to run by February 21, Burns was declared the winner on March 12.[29][30][31][32]


  1., "Maryland marijuana bill would end jail time and reduce the fine for small amounts," March 17, 2013
  2., "Senate, House committees pass bill to legalize gay marriage," March 14, 2013
  3., "Utah House, Senate at odds over dropping the Zion Curtain," March 14, 2013
  4., "Zion curtains will remain in Utah restaurants," March 15, 2013
  5. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed March 18, 2013
  6. Los Angeles Times, "Gov. Jerry Brown calls for special session of Legislature on healthcare," January 24, 2013
  7. Sacramento Business Journal, " Healthcare reform special session starts," January 28, 2013
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 State Scape, "Session schedules," accessed March 18, 2013
  9., "Kentucky House passes redistricting plan; final approval unlikely in this session," accessed March 6, 2013
  10., "Kentucky General Assembly fails to pass redistricting bill," March 13, 2013
  11. New Jersey Department of State, "Petition filing instruction sheet," accessed January 14, 2013 (dead link)
  12. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidacy Requirements for House of Delegates," accessed January 16, 2013
  13. Union Leader, "From Fla., Rep.-elect Thompson says he plans to resign the seat," November 28, 2012
  14. Union Leader, "Council approves special election for Manchester Ward 2 House seat," January 16, 2013
  15. Local 15, "Ala. Senate District 35 to Hold Special Election," December 4, 2012
  16., "Three Republicans qualify for state Senate District 35 special election," December 12, 2012
  17. Local 15, "District 35 State Senate Race Goes to a Runoff," January 29, 2013
  18., "Hightower wins Alabama Senate District 35 runoff," March 12, 2013 (dead link)
  19. 19.0 19.1 KPCC, "Gov. Brown schedules special election for 2 vacant SoCal state Senate seats," January 7, 2013
  20. Champion Newspapers, "Three declare plans to seek vacated State Senate seat," November 20, 2012
  21. Daily Bulletin, "Six Inland Empire politicians plunge into special election for seat in state Senate," January 18, 2013
  22., "32nd Senate District race heads to a May runoff to represent Pomona, Fontana and Ontario," March 13, 2013
  23. Imperial Valley Press, "Special election will fill seat vacated by Vargas," November 14, 2012
  24. U-T San Diego, "2 REPUBLICANS JOIN STATE SENATE RACE," January 19, 2013
  25., "32nd Senate District race heads to a May runoff to represent Pomona, Fontana and Ontario," March 13, 2013
  26. The Republic, "Bryant sets March 12 special election for Gibbs' successor in Miss. House, with runoff April 2," January 28, 2013
  27. Clarion Ledger, "Senate D36 candidates qualified," February 13, 2013
  28., "2 advance to runoff after House special election," March 12, 2013
  29. The Travelers Rest Tribune, "Upstate businessman to run for recently vacated S.C. House District 17 seat," November 14, 2012 (dead link)
  30. Taylors-Wade Hampton Patch, "Businessman Announces Bid For Vacated S.C. House Seat," November 15, 2012
  31. Travelers Rest Tribune, "Burns wins S.C. House District 17 Republican runoff," February 5, 2013 (dead link)
  32., "Burns to fill House District 17 seat," March 12, 2013

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • March 19: New Hampshire House of Representatives Hillsborough 9
  • March 26: Mississippi House of Representatives District 11
  • April 2: Massachusetts House of Representatives 12th Essex
  • April 2: Massachusetts House of Representatives 28th Middlesex
  • April 2: Missouri House of Representatives District 76
  • April 2: Missouri House of Representatives District 157
  • April 2: Wisconsin State Assembly District 98
  • April 9: Alabama House of Representatives District 97

See also