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State Legislative Tracker: Georgia legislator passes away

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August 5, 2013

Edited by Joel Williams
This week’s tracker includes a look the death of a Georgia state representative.

Weekly highlight

Last week, no state ended its legislative session. Here is a brief look at issues making headlines across the country:

  • Georgia: Six-term Georgia State Rep. Quincy Murphy (D) passed away this week after a lengthy battle with cancer. Murphy was first elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2002, and only faced opposition for re-election once in 2006. He served on the Appropriations, Higher Education, Insurance, and Transportation committees. Murphy is remembered by other members of the chamber for his advocacy of the city of Augusta, and in particular its young people. In recent years, he unsuccessfully sponsored bills in the legislature that would have required audits for Augusta city departments every five years and made the Augusta Commission's elections partisan. Outside of politics, he co-owned an insurance agency founded in 1977, making it one of the oldest black businesses in Augusta, and refereed high school football and basketball games in his home county for almost forty years. Gov. Nathan Deal has until September 5 to schedule a special election for Murphy's seat, which can be held any time between October 5 and December 5. Murphy is survived by his wife and two adult children.[1][2][3]
  • Nebraska: A Nebraska Unicameral committee is due to take up the issue of gay marriage when it meets this fall. A hearing to review the state's current marriage law, which does not provide for any civil unions or partnerships for gay couples, will be held on October 4. Sen. Brad Ashford, chair of the Judiciary Committee and a supporter of gay marriage, said that a public debate is needed following the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which had allowed to states the right to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages made in other states. He added that he does not believe Nebraskans are likely to support gay marriage should a ballot measure appear in the future, but may accept civil unions. In 2000, Nebraska voters overwhelmingly approved an initiated constitutional amendment that banned gay marriage in the state. The amendment survived a legal challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups when a federal appeals court overturned a lower court decision in their favor. Supporters of the amendment argue that the sizable support for the amendment has held steady since 2000. Ashford said that if Nebraska kept the amendment as-is, jobs could be lost as a result of large companies not doing business in the state. Last month, the term-limited Ashford expressed interest in running for the U.S. Senate in 2014.[4][5][6][7][8]
  • Texas: Governor Rick Perry (R) has called the State legislature into a third special session after it failed to approve House Joint Resolution 2. Perry previously warned the legislature that if it did not approve House Joint Resolution 2 before the end of the second special session, he would call the legislature into another session. The last time that the legislature had three special sessions was during the 2005-2006 session over school finance issues. The previous two special sessions dealt with House Bill 2, a law signed to regulate abortions, and House Joint Resolution 2 (HJR 2), a proposed constitutional amendment. If approved, the new amendment would divert money from Texas' Rainy Day fund for transportation projects such as highway and road repairs. If passed by voters on the 2014 ballot, it would bring about $840 million annually to Texas for transportation funding. The proposed amendment was put to a vote in the Texas House of Representatives, but the House could not garner the 100 votes neecessary for approval. The session is expected to last thirty days, and may be followed by another special session should the legislature fail to pass the bill. Perry stated on the importance of passing HJR 2 that "[w]hen it comes to transportation, the stakes facing our state could not be higher, and a failure to act now could take years — if not most of a decade — to correct, as traffic congestion increases and harms our quality of life." While many lawmakers agree that HJR 2 is important, many lawmakers argue about the need for another special sessions since the added sessions have already cost taxpayers an additional $1.6 million.[9][10][11]

As of today, August 5, 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 51.9% of all seats while Democrats hold 46.7%. All told, Republicans control 57 chambers while Democrats are the majority in 41 chambers. One chamber is nonpartisan.

Representation in 50 State Legislatures
Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state legislators 3,450 46.7%
Republican state legislators 3,829 51.9%
Independent (and nonpartisan) state legislators 67 0.91%
Third party (and non-voting) legislators 11 0.15%
Vacancies 28 0.38%

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 August 5, 2013, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

  • Democratic Party 21 chambers
  • Republican Party 28 chambers
  • Independent 1 chamber (Nebraska)
See also: Partisan composition of state houses

Cumulative numbers

As of August 4, 2014, 1,905 state senators are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state senators 875 44.4%
Republican state senators 1,030 52.2%
Nonpartisan state senators 49 2.48%
Independent state senators 4 0.2%
Third Party state senators 2 0.1%
Vacancies 12 0.61%


As of August 4, 2014, there are 12 vacancies in 8 states.

State Vacancies
Arkansas 1
Missouri 2
New Hampshire 1
New York 2
South Carolina 1
Texas 2
Virginia 2
Wisconsin 1


As of August 4, 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 5,413 state representatives.

As of August 5, 2013, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

  • Democratic Party 20 chambers
  • Republican Party 29 chambers

Cumulative numbers

As of August 4, 2014, 5,345 state representatives are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state representatives 2,553 47.2%
Republican state representatives 2,792 51.6%
Independent state representatives 13 0.24%
Third party (and nonvoting) representatives 10 0.18%
Vacancies 45 0.83%


As of August 4, 2014, there are 45 state house vacancies in 14 different states.

State Vacancies
Alabama 1
California 1
Connecticut 1
Georgia 1
Illinois 2
Louisiana 1
Maine 1
Massachusetts 5
Missouri 3
Nevada 1
New Hampshire 14
New York 11
Virginia 2
Washington 1


As of August 4, 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 August 5, 2013
See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2013 session information.

Currently 3 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. Two states, California and Texas, are meeting in special session. California's special session is running concurrently with its regular session.

As of April 8, all states states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions.[20]

The following states have ended their regular session:[21]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
There are 7,385 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,423 (46.4%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,818 (51.7%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 41
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 57
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 1
2013 Session Information
Total Special Elections 44
Total Special Sessions 11

There are two special sessions ongoing this week in California and Texas. The West Virginia State Legislature held a one-day special session on April 17 to finish remaining business from the regular session.[22] The Mississippi State Legislature held a one-day special session on April 26 to approve incentives for a foreign tire maker to open a plant in the state.[23] The Arizona State Legislature held a brief special session this week concurrently with the end of their regular session, primarily to pass a budget that included Medicaid expansion.[24][25] Mississippi held a two-day special session to approve Medicaid funding and reauthorization.[26] Utah held a one-day special session to consider technical legislation related to the investigation of Utah Attorney General John Swallow (R).[27]


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.[28][29]


Governor Rick Perry (R) called the legislature back for a third special session after it failed to pass a transportation funding bill Perry supported. The House immediately adjourned for a week, allowing the Senate to take the lead on the legislation. The Senate passed the bill within an hour, sending it back to the House for deliberation. The last time the legislature held three special sessions was in 2005-2006 to work out school finance issues.[30]

In recess

As of today, August 5, there are 6 state legislatures currently in recess:[31]

Redistricting Roundup.jpg

State news

Redistricting Facts
Maps submitted for vote: 140 out of 142 (98.6%)** No votes on initial maps in the following: 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.

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 were 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.[32]

  • 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 was $352.80.[33]


The state primaries were as follows:

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


New Jersey had a quiet election, with all competing incumbents winning their primaries.

There were only three hotly contested races, all in the Senate, but none resulted in the ousting of an incumbent:[34]

Republican PartyDistrict 13: Incumbent Joe Kyrillos, Jr. defeated challenger Leigh-Ann Bellew.
Democratic PartyDistrict 20: Incumbent Raymond Lesniak defeated challenger Donna Obe.
Democratic PartyDistrict 34: Incumbent Nia H. Gill defeated challengers Mark C. Alexander and Vernon Pullins, Jr..

Virginia experienced two upsets in an otherwise quiet day of primaries for the House of Delegates. Voter turnout was expected to fall below 5 percent based on projections at polling locations.[35]

Virginia's legislative primaries yielded a pair of defeats for incumbent legislators. The defeated incumbents were supporters of a recently passed transportation bill that increases sales and gas taxes to improve roadways.[36][37] The successful challengers lodged primary challenges in part to protest the bill's passage, which they called the biggest tax increase in the state's history.[38]

Republican Party Mark J. Berg defeated Beverly Sherwood in District 29.
Republican Party Dave A. LaRock defeated Joe T. May in District 33.

Five incumbents were able to fend off primary challenges in Tuesday's primaries:

Republican Party C. Todd Gilbert defeated Mark W. Prince in District 15.
Republican Party Bill Howell defeated Craig E. Ennis in District 28.
Republican Party Bobby Orrock defeated Dustin R. Curtis in District 54.
Democratic Party Roz Dance defeated Evandra D. Thompson in District 63.
Democratic Party Algie Howell defeated Richard James in District 90.

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See also: State legislative special elections, 2013

There is one special election in Virginia and three special primaries in Michigan and Washington scheduled for this week.

Virginia State Senate District 14

In early April 2013, Sen. Harry Blevins (R) announced his retirement effective August 5. A special election has been called for August 6.[39][40]

August 5 Special election candidates:

Democratic Party Kerry B. Holmes
Republican Party John Cosgrove

Michigan House of Representatives District 49

Rep. Jim Ananich (D) was elected to the Michigan State Senate on May 7, 2013. A special election has been called concurrent with the regularly-scheduled November 5 elections, with a primary on August 6. Candidates had until June 4 to file certified nomination papers.[41][42]

Democratic PartyAugust 6 Democratic primary:

Republican PartyAugust 6 GOP primary:

Washington State Senate District 7

Sen. Bob Morton (R) retired on January 1, 2013. His term in the state senate runs until 2014. Republican precinct committee officers chose John Smith (R) to fill his seat during the 2013 session and a special election for the rest of his term will be held on November 5, with a primary on August 6 if necessary.[43][44]

Republican PartyAugust 6 GOP primary:

Washington State Senate District 8

Sen. Jerome Delvin (R) resigned on January 1, 2013 to serve as Benton County Commissioner. His term in the state senate runs until 2014. Republican precinct committee officers chose Sharon Brown (R) to fill his seat during the 2013 session and a special election for the rest of his term will be held on November 5, with a primary on August 6 if necessary.[45][46]

Republican PartyAugust 6 GOP primary:

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • September 10: Massachusetts House of Representatives 6th Bristol District
  • September 10: Massachusetts House of Representatives 12th Suffolk District
  • September 10: Massachusetts House of Representatives 16th Worcester District

See also


  1., "Veteran Georgia legislator dies after lengthy illness," August 2, 2013
  2., "Rep. Quincy Murphy dies after battle with cancer," August 2, 2013
  3., "Condolences Pouring In After Death Of State Representative Quincy Murphy," August 2, 2013
  4. The Associated Press, "Nebraska lawmakers to revive gay marriage debate," July 28, 2013
  5. San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, "Nebraska panel to look into whether to recognize gay marriages from other states," July 29, 2013
  6. KETV, "Nebraska lawmakers set to discuss same-sex marriage," July 29, 2013
  7. Nebraska Radio Network, "State senator says it’s time for Nebraska to reconsider same-sex marriage," July 29, 2013
  8. Lincoln Journal-Star, "Ashford inclined to seek Senate seat," July 3, 2013
  9. "," "Texas Legislature Ends Second Special Session, Begins Third," July 31, 2013
  10. "Star-Telegram," "Two special sessions likely cost Texans more than $1.6 million," July 30, 2013
  11. "Texas Tribune," "Perry Calls Third Special Session of Texas Legislature," July 30, 2013
  12. The Charleston Daily Mail, "Nick Rahall, Evan Jenkins contributed to each other's campaigns," July 30, 2013
  13. The Associated Press, "Lawmaker switches parties, to seek Rahall's seat," July 31, 2013
  14. The Herald-Dispatch, "Jenkins stripped of leader posts in Senate," July 30, 2013
  15. POLITICO, "Democrat switches parties to run vs. Nick Rahall," July 31, 2013
  16. POLITICO, "For Nick Rahall, distance from EPA, Obama still vital," July 29, 2013
  17. The State Journal, "WV GOP welcomes Sen. Evan Jenkins to the party and US Congress run," July 31, 2013
  18. The State Journal, "Jenkins switches sides, announces congressional run," August 1, 2013
  19. WCHS, "Jenkins Party Switch Raises Issue Of Shift In WV Politics," August 1, 2013
  20. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed August 5, 2013
  21. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed August 5, 2013
  22. West Virginia Legislature, "2013 1st Special Session," accessed June 1, 2013
  23., "Mississippi lawmakers pass incentives for tire maker," April 26, 2013
  24. Arizona Capitol Times, "Lawmakers prepare to adjourn as Medicaid expansion moves toward approval," June 11, 2013
  25. The Associated Press, "Arizona Senate ends special session after passing GOP Gov. Brewer’s budget, Medicaid expansion," June 12, 2013
  26., "Bryant calls Medicaid special session for Thursday (updated)," June 24, 2013
  27., "Herbert calls special session for Legislature," July 13, 2013
  28. Los Angeles Times, "Gov. Jerry Brown calls for special session of Legislature on healthcare," January 24, 2013
  29. Sacramento Business Journal, " Healthcare reform special session starts," January 28, 2013
  30., "Texas gov. calls 3rd special legislative session," July 30, 2013
  31., "Daily Session Summary," accessed August 5, 2013
  32. New Jersey Department of State, "Petition filing instruction sheet," accessed January 14, 2013
  33. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidacy Requirements for House of Delegates," accessed January 16, 2013
  34., "Polls close in 2013 N.J. primary elections as votes are tallied," June 4, 2013
  35. Washington Post, "Voter turnout sparse for down-ticket races in Virginia," June 11, 2013
  36. CBS DC, "Virginia Primary Results Roll In," June 11, 2013
  37., "Howell’s transportation PAC helping candidates," June 7, 2013
  38. WRIC, "Virginia Primary Round Up," June 11, 2013
  39., "Special election set Aug. 6 for seat being vacated by Chesapeake state senator," April 18, 2013
  40., "List of Candidates," accessed June 20, 2013
  41., "Snyder calls special election for state House seat," May 15, 2013
  42., "Six Democrats, two Republicans face off in 49th District state House primary election," June 4, 2013
  43., "Colville-area farmer named to succeed Morton," January 4, 2013
  44., "State candidates in lot order," accessed August 5, 2013
  45., "Kennewick Mayor Pro-Tem Sharon Brown to replace Sen. Delvin," January 28, 2013
  46., "State candidates in lot order," accessed August 5, 2013