State Legislative Tracker: Indiana senator calls for Article V convention
Last week, no state ended its legislative session. Here is a brief look at issues making headlines across the country:
- Arizona: A vote by Arizona State Senate Democrats this week to change up leadership revealed a rift within the minority party. In an 8-5 vote on October 29, the minority party caucus ousted Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor as State Senate Minority Leader in favor of Sen. Anna Tovar, who served as State Senate Minority Whip during the 2013 legislative session. The decision drew a heated reaction from several party members with Sens. Taylor, Linda Lopez, David Bradley, Olivia Cajero Bedford and Barbara McGuire reportedly storming from the room following the vote. The eight remaining caucus members then picked Sen. Lynne Pancrazi to serve as State Senate Assistant Minority Leader and Sen. Steve Gallardo as State Senate Minority Whip. Following the meeting, Taylor — who is exploring a run for Arizona Secretary of State in 2014 — expressed shock over her removal. The 13-member caucus had met with the purpose of replacing Lopez, who resigned her post as State Senate Assistant Minority Leader in order to focus on new job responsibilities. Taylor said the caucus had no cause to remove her from the minority leader position, adding that the vote was “the most blatant, racist, disrespectful move I’ve ever seen in my life.” According to Gallardo, who opened up the floor to elect a new minority leader, the decision wasn't personal, "...it was just about the caucus wanting to go in a different direction." Tovar refuted Taylor's comments about the vote being over race. “I feel sorry she feels that way, because that is definitely not the case. If you look at me I’m a female and I’m a minority as well, and that was not the issue,” she said. According to reports, party members had called into question Taylor's effectiveness as a party leader if running for statewide office.
- Hawaii: Governor Neil Abercrombie (D) convened a special session last week to pass Senate Bill 1, which would legalize same-sex marriage in Hawaii and give same-sex couples the same benefits and protections under federal law. Senate Bill 1, Relating to Equal Rights, passed the Judiciary and Labor Committee in the Senate by a vote of 5-2 before it reached the Senate floor. The Hawaii State Senate voted 20-4 in favor of the bill, with Ronald Kouchi (D), Donna Kim (D), Mike Gabbard (D) and Samuel Slom (R) as the four senators who opposed the measure. David M. Louie (D), the Attorney General of Hawaii and a supporter of Senate Bill 1, said about the bill that, "We believe this is the right thing to do and the right time to do it, and the Legislature has the right people to make it happen." The next step for the bill will be for it to be heard by the Committees on Finance and Judiciary in the Hawaii House of Representatives. If the bill gains approval from the committees it will be sent to the house floor for a full vote. House Republicans Richard Fale, Bob McDermott and Gene Ward have called on House Speaker Joseph Souki (D) to allow House Bill 5 to be heard. This bill would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot which would let voters decide the issue instead. It will be up to House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke (D) and Judiciary Chairman Karl Rhoads (D) if House Bill 5 will be heard. Even with the ongoing debate on Senate Bill 1 between Democrats and Republicans, the bill is still expected to pass the House where Democrats hold a 44-7 majority over Republicans. If passed, Hawaii will become the 15th U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage.
- Indiana: The President Pro Tempore of the Indiana State Senate has joined a call to organize a meeting that could initiate a constitutional convention. Joining legislators from Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, David Long (R) signed his name to a letter calling for states to send a three-person bipartisan delegation to Mount Vernon in Virginia on December 7. The purpose of the so-called 'Mount Vernon Assembly' is to plan what is known as an Article V convention, named for its provision in the United States Constitution. Under Article V, two-thirds of state legislatures may call on Congress to initiate a convention, and three-fourths of states may ratify any passed amendments without Congress' involvement. Long and other supporters say an Article V convention, which has never occurred previously, would serve as states' check against what they call federal "dysfunction." The meeting would not cover topics for such a convention, but the legislators argue that by focusing on process, a later application can be considered "solely on [its] merits." Criticism of an Article V convention includes the concern that through bypassing Congress, states could go as far as discarding the Constitution entirely. No neophyte to the idea, Long sponsored a 2013 joint resolution calling on Congress to call an Article V convention; although it passed the Senate, it stalled in the House Judiciary Committee. He also successfully advanced two bills delineating the selection and duties of an Indiana delegate to such a convention.
- Texas: State Senator Tommy Williams officially resigned his seat in letters to Governor Rick Perry and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst on Friday, October 25. The resignation took effect October 26. Unconfirmed rumors suggest that Williams resigned to take a government relations position at Texas A&M University, his alma mater. Until a successor is chosen, Williams's Senate staff will continue "to help serve the people of" District 4. Multiple senators are vying for Williams' former position as Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, with the appointment made by Drewhurst. Dewhurst's spokesman Andrew Barlow said that "there's a number of strong candidates in the Senate" to potentially succeed Williams, including Senators Robert Duncan and Kevin Eltife. A special election will be held in 2014 to fill the empty seat through the rest of Williams' term, which ends in 2016. Texas Representatives Steve Toth and Brandon Creighton, as well as Woodlands Township Director Gordy Bunch, have announced intentions to run for the empty seat. Although no primary election is to be held, a candidate would need to win the special election with more than fifty percent of the vote, or a runoff will take place.
As of today, November 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 51.7% 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|
|Democratic state legislators||3,444||46.6%|
|Republican state legislators||3,817||51.7%|
|Independent (and nonpartisan) state legislators||67||0.91%|
|Third party (and non-voting) legislators||12||0.16%|
As of October 7, 2013, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:
- 21 chambers
- 28 chambers
- 1 chamber (Nebraska)
- See also: Partisan composition of state houses
As of December 1, 2014, 1,902 state senators are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties. This total is updated monthly.
|Democratic state senators||861||43.6%|
|Republican state senators||1,041||52.8%|
|Nonpartisan state senators||49||2.48%|
|Independent state senators||4||0.2%|
|Third Party state senators||2||0.1%|
As of December 1, 2014, there are 15 vacancies in 12 states. This total is updated monthly.
As of December 1, 2014, there are 6 state senators in 5 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Republican. This total is updated monthly.
|Rhode Island||1 (Independent)|
|Vermont||2 (Vermont Progressive)|
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 5,416 state representatives.
As of October 7, 2013, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:
As of December 1, 2014, 5,338 state representatives are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties. This total is updated monthly.
|Democratic state representatives||2,535||46.9%|
|Republican state representatives||2,803||51.8%|
|Independent state representatives||12||0.22%|
|Third party representatives||6||0.11%|
As of December 1, 2014, there are 51 state house vacancies in 18 different states. This total is updated monthly.
As of December 1, 2014, there are 18 state representatives in 6 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Republican. Three members of the Maine House of Representatives are non-voting Native American representatives. This total is updated monthly.
|Maine||7 (3 non-voting Native American representatives, 4 Independent)|
|Vermont||9 (5 Vermont Progressive Party, 4 Independent)|
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
- Click here to see a chart of each state's 2013 session information.
Currently three out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. One state is meeting in special session.
As of April 8, all states states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions.
The following states have ended their regular session:
- April 5: Idaho
- April 5: Mississippi
- April 8: Maryland
- April 14: West Virginia
- April 14: Alaska
- April 19: Tennessee
- April 25: Montana
- April 29: Indiana
- April 29: Washington
- May 3: Florida
- May 3: Hawaii
- May 6: North Dakota
- May 9: Colorado
- May 14: Vermont
- May 17: Arkansas
- May 20: Alabama
- May 20: Minnesota
- May 23: Iowa
- May 27: Texas
- May 30: Missouri
- May 31: Oklahoma
- June 3: Nevada
- June 5: Connecticut
- June 5: Nebraska
- June 6: Louisiana
- June 14: Arizona
- June 20: Kansas
- June 20: South Carolina
- July 1: Delaware
- July 1: New Hampshire
- July 5: Rhode Island
- July 9: Oregon
- July 10: Maine
- July 26: North Carolina
- September 13: California
| Snapshot of State Legislatures: |
Sunday, December 28, 2014
|There are 7,387 Total State Legislators|
|Total Democratic state legislators||3,444 (46.6%)|
|Total Republican state legislators||3,817 (51.6%)|
|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||57|
|Total Special Sessions||21|
Hawaii's legislature is currently meeting in special session to discuss Senate Bill 1. SB1 would recognize same-sex marriages within the state and extend to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage that opposite-sex couples receive. If it passes, the bill would be effective November 18, 2013.
As of today, November 4, there are 5 state legislatures currently in recess:
|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||46/50 (Maps unfinished: ME, MT; Maps ordered redrawn: AK, 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)|
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 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:
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
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.
- 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.
The state primaries were as follows:
- New Jersey:
- June 4, 2013
- 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:
- District 13: Incumbent Joe Kyrillos, Jr. defeated challenger Leigh-Ann Bellew.
- District 20: Incumbent Raymond Lesniak defeated challenger Donna Obe.
- District 34: Incumbent Nia H. Gill defeated challengers Mark C. Alexander and Vernon Pullins, Jr..
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. 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.
- Mark J. Berg defeated Beverly Sherwood in District 29.
- Dave A. LaRock defeated Joe T. May in District 33.
Five incumbents were able to fend off primary challenges in the June 11 primaries:
There are fifteen special elections scheduled for this week. Check out our preview article here.
Recent election results
October 29, 2013
South Carolina House of Representatives District 93
Rep. Harry Ott, Jr. (D) resigned on July 20, 2013 to work as the state director for the Farm Service Agency in the federal government. A special election was called for October 29. The filing period for candidates ran from July 12 to July 26.
Upcoming special elections include:
- November 16: Louisiana House of Representatives District 87
- November 19: California State Assembly District 45 (Runoff)
- November 19: Iowa State Senate District 13
- November 19: Wisconsin State Assembly District 21
- November 19: Wisconsin State Assembly District 69
- November 21: Tennessee House of Representatives District 91
- December 3: Alabama House of Representatives District 74
- December 3: California State Assembly District 54
- State legislative elections, 2013
- 2013 state legislative calendar
- Signature requirements and deadlines for 2013 state government elections
- State legislative special elections, 2013
- State legislative recalls
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