State Legislative Tracker: Minnesota repeals more than 1,000 laws

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June 2, 2014

Edited by Joel Williams
This week’s tracker includes a partisan count update and a look at a mass repeal of "outdated" laws in Minnesota. One such law, requiring the Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture to personally capture or kill a wild boar roaming free in Minneapolis or St. Paul, however, was not struck down.

Weekly highlight

Last week, Illinois and Oklahoma adjourned their legislative sessions. Here is a brief look at issues making headlines across the country:

  • Michigan: On May 27, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed legislation to raise minimum wage 25 percent from $7.40 to $9.25 by 2018. The law will affect about 96,000 workers that earn at or below minimum wage, which is 3.8 percent of Michigan's hourly workers. The increase may impact hourly workers above the minimum wage as employers might adjust their pay scales. However, the $9.25 minimum wage still will not "lift a family of three above the federal poverty level," according to policy analyst for the Michigan League for Public Policy, Yannet Lathrop. Republicans voted in favor of the bill to prevent a higher raise to $10.10 petitioned by Raise Michigan and supported by 300,000 signatures. Rep. Peter Pettalia (R) said that he supports "this bill because the alternative is terrible." The wage increase is supported by President Obama and the national Democrats. The minimum wage will continue to rise with inflation starting in 2019. Every year, the wage will increase 3.5 percent unless state unemployment was 8.5 percent or higher the previous year. Charles Ballard, an economics professor at Michigan State University, used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to say that a minimum-wage earner making $8.00 an hour in 2018 will be relatively the same as $7.40 today. Additionally, the law will also increase the wage for workers who get tips from $2.65 to $3.52 instead of the originally proposed raise to $10.10 for all workers which would have eliminated the tipped wage scale. The Michigan Restaurant Association and the National Federation of Independent Businesses said that the minimum wage increase will cause closures and layoffs. They also said that had the separate payment scale for tipped workers been eliminated, the results would have been "devastating" for businesses and employees.[1][2][3]
  • Minnesota: The Minnesota legislative session ended two weeks ago, but last week saw Gov. Mark Dayton (D) complete the repeal of nearly 1,200 laws, as well as the enaction of one of the most tightly-regulated medical marijuana programs in the country. However, not all are happy with the outcome.
  • The so-called "unsession" eliminated 1,175 laws considered outdated, including telegraph regulations and a ban on driving cars in neutral. More than 30 advisory boards, councils and task forces were terminated and the waiting time for most business permits dropped from within 150 days to within 90. Not all trivial laws initially highlighted by Dayton were struck down; if a wild boar roams free in Minneapolis or St. Paul, the state agriculture commissioner, Dave Frederickson, is still legally required to capture or kill the animal himself.
  • In addition to the legislative moves, Dayton issued an executive order in March requiring "plain-language" communication from state agencies. The streamlining project was to meant be a centerpiece of the regular session; other issues including the budget surplus, medical marijuana and the cell phone killswitch requirement instead came to the forefront. Republicans criticized the effort for ignoring more current issues including a $77 million office building for Senate personnel, as well as MNsure, the state health insurance exchange. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R) commented, "Minnesotans are unimpressed."
  • Very late in the session, Senate Republicans blocked a proposal to halve the time in which state agencies make regulations for the sake of implementing new laws. Sen. Dave Thompson (R) told MinnPost, "When regulatory agencies are doing things that impact individuals, impact families, impact businesses — and it’s not the Legislature doing it, and it’s the bureaucrats doing it — there should be a rigorous rulemaking process."
  • Dayton left a medical marijuana bill for last; he signed it Friday, instituting a limited program in which marijuana can be distributed to patients in pills, oil and vapor; smoking marijuana remains illegal. Proponents of medical marijuana expressed disappointment with the bill, written as a compromise with doctors and law enforcement in mind. Under the program, sufferers of AIDS, cancer and glaucoma would be eligible, but not those of post-traumatic stress disorder, nausea or Crohn's disease. Minnesota is the twenty-second state to permit medical marijuana.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

As of today, June 2, 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 51.8% 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 nonpartisan.

Representation in 50 State Legislatures
Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state legislators 3,445 46.5%
Republican state legislators 3,835 51.8%
Independent (and nonpartisan) state legislators 66 0.89%
Third party (and nonvoting) legislators 12 0.16%
Vacancies 30 0.41%

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 June 2, 2014, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

See also: Partisan composition of state senates

Cumulative numbers

As of April 6, 2015, 1,911 state senators were affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties. This total is updated monthly.

Party Number Percentage
Democratic state senators 825 41.7%
Republican state senators 1,086 54.9%
Nonpartisan state senators 49 2.47%
Independent state senators 2 0.10%
Third party state senators 1 0.05%
Vacancies 13 0.65%


As of April 6, 2015, there are 13 vacancies in 11 states. This total is updated monthly.

State Vacancies
Arkansas 2
California 1
Florida 1
Kentucky 1
New Mexico 1
Oklahoma 1
Pennsylvania 1
South Dakota 2
West Virginia 1
Wisconsin 1
Wyoming 1


As of April 6, 2015, there are three state senators in three states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Republican. This total is updated monthly.

State Independents/Third Party
Alabama 1 (Independent)
Rhode Island 1 (Independent)
Vermont 1 (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 5,411 state representatives.

As of June 2, 2014, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

  • Democratic Party 20 chambers
  • Republican Party 29 chambers
See also: Partisan composition of state houses

Cumulative numbers

As of April 6, 2015, 5,367 state representatives were affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties. This total is updated monthly.

Party Number Percentage
Democratic state representatives 2,345 43.3%
Republican state representatives 3,022 55.9%
Independent state representatives 18 0.33%
Third party representatives 6 0.11%
Vacancies 15 0.277%


As of April 6, 2015, there are 15 state house vacancies in 11 different states. This total is updated monthly.

State Vacancies
Florida 3
Louisiana 1
Massachusetts 2
Missouri 1
New Hampshire 2
New Jersey 1
Pennsylvania 1
Rhode Island 1
South Carolina 1
Texas 1
Virginia 1


As of April 6, 2015, there are 24 state representatives in nine 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.

State Independents/Third Party
Alaska 1 (Independent)
Georgia 1 (Independent)
Louisiana 2 (Independent)
Maine 7 (3 non-voting Native American representatives, 4 Independent)
Missouri 1 (Independent)
New Hampshire 1 (Independent)
North Carolina 1 (Independent)
Rhode Island 1 (Independent)
Vermont 12 (6 Vermont Progressive Party, 6 Independent)

Regular sessions

Current sessions capture for the week of June 2, 2014
See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2014 session information.

Currently 12 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. One state, Virginia, is in special session. California is in special session concurrent with its regular session.

The following states have convened their 2014 regular session:[10]

The following states have adjourned their 2014 regular session:[11]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Sunday, April 19, 2015
There are 7,383 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,169 (42.9%)
Total Republican state legislators 4,113 (55.7%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 30
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 68
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 1
2015 Session Information
Total Special Elections 33
Total Special Sessions 1

The California State Legislature is meeting in a special session concurrent with its regular session to discuss a proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) to change the state's rainy day fund. Brown's proposal would require the state to save some of the revenue from capital gains taxes. He hopes to have his proposal approved by the legislature and on the 2014 ballot. California's rainy day fund has existed since 2004 but has been empty for a majority of that time.[12]


The Virginia State Legislature is meeting in special session to try and pass an estimated $96 billion budget for the next two years. The session is not expected to end quickly, as Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and the Republican-led House disagree over whether the state should accept further Medicaid funding from the federal government. This special session is required as the legislature failed to pass a budget during the yearly regular session. Should no agreement be reached by July 1, Virginia's government could shut down.[13]

In recess

As of today, June 2, there is one state legislature currently in recess:[14]

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 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 116
Alaska Red padlock.png 6/2/2014[15] Red padlock.png 8/19/2014 78
Arizona Red padlock.png 5/28/2014[16] Red padlock.png 8/26/2014 90
Arkansas Red padlock.png 3/3/2014[17][18] Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 78
California Red padlock.png 3/7/2014[19][20][21] Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 88
Colorado Red padlock.png 3/31/2014[22][23] Red padlock.png 6/24/2014 85
Connecticut Red padlock.png 6/10/2014[24] Red padlock.png 8/12/2014 90
Delaware Red padlock.png 7/8/2014 Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 63
Florida Red padlock.png 6/20/2014[25][26] Red padlock.png 8/26/2014 67
Georgia Red padlock.png 3/7/2014 Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 74
Hawaii Red padlock.png 6/3/2014[27] Red padlock.png 8/9/2014 67
Idaho Red padlock.png 3/14/2014 Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 78
Illinois Red padlock.png 12/2/2013 Red padlock.png 3/18/2014 106
Indiana Red padlock.png 2/7/2014 Red padlock.png 5/6/2014 88
Iowa Red padlock.png 3/14/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 81
Kansas Red padlock.png 6/2/2014 Red padlock.png 8/5/2014 65
Kentucky Red padlock.png 1/28/2014[28][29] Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 112
Maine Red padlock.png 3/17/2014[30] Red padlock.png 6/10/2014 85
Maryland Red padlock.png 2/25/2014[31] Red padlock.png 6/24/2014 119
Massachusetts Red padlock.png 6/3/2014[32] Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 98
Michigan Red padlock.png 4/22/2014 Red padlock.png 8/5/2014 105
Minnesota Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 Red padlock.png 8/12/2014 70
Missouri Red padlock.png 3/25/2014 Red padlock.png 8/5/2014 133
Montana Red padlock.png 3/10/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 85
Nebraska Red padlock.png 3/3/2014[33] Red padlock.png 5/13/2014 85
Nevada Red padlock.png 3/14/2014 Red padlock.png 6/10/2014 88
New Hampshire Red padlock.png 6/13/2014 Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 88
New Mexico Red padlock.png 2/4/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 119
New York Red padlock.png 7/10/2014 Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 61
North Carolina Red padlock.png 2/28/2014 Red padlock.png 5/6/2014 67
North Dakota Red padlock.png 4/7/2014 Red padlock.png 6/10/2014 64
Ohio Red padlock.png 2/5/2014 Red padlock.png 5/6/2014 90
Oklahoma Red padlock.png 4/11/2014 Red padlock.png 6/24/2014 74
Oregon Red padlock.png 3/11/2014 Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 70
Pennsylvania Red padlock.png 3/11/2014 Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 70
Rhode Island Red padlock.png 6/25/2014 Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 76
South Carolina Red padlock.png 3/30/2014 Red padlock.png 6/10/2014 72
South Dakota Red padlock.png 3/25/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 70
Tennessee Red padlock.png 4/3/2014 Red padlock.png 8/7/2014 126
Texas Red padlock.png 12/9/2013 Red padlock.png 3/4/2014 85
Utah Red padlock.png 3/20/2014 Red padlock.png 6/24/2014 96
Vermont Red padlock.png 6/12/2014 Red padlock.png 8/26/2014 75
Washington Red padlock.png 5/17/2014 Red padlock.png 8/5/2014 80
West Virginia Red padlock.png 1/25/2014 Red padlock.png 5/13/2014 108
Wisconsin Red padlock.png 6/2/2014 Red padlock.png 8/12/2014 71
Wyoming Red padlock.png 5/30/2014 Red padlock.png 8/19/2014 81

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See also: State legislative special elections, 2014

There are no special elections scheduled this week. The next special election will take place on August 5 in Texas.

Texas State Senate District 4

See also: Texas state legislative special elections, 2014

Gordy Bunch (R), Brandon Creighton (R), Michael Galloway (R) and Steve Toth (R) faced off in the special election, which took place on May 10.[34][35] Because no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters - Creighton and Toth - advanced to a runoff election on August 5, which Creighton won.[36][37]

The seat was vacant following Tommy Williams's (R) retirement on October 26, 2013.

A special election for the position of Texas State Senate District 4 was called for May 10. The filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was March 10, 2014.[38]

Texas State Senate, District 4, Special Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngBrandon Creighton 67.4% 15,232
     Republican Steve Toth 32.6% 7,373
Total Votes 22,605
August 5 Runoff candidates:
Republican Party Brandon Creighton
Republican Party Steve Toth

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • November 4: Louisiana House of Representatives District 97

See also


  1. Huffington Post, "Michigan Raises Its Minimum Wage," May 27, 2014
  2. CBS Detroit, "5 Things To Know About Michigan's Minimum Wage Raise," May 28, 2014
  3. The New American, "Michigan Joins Other States in Raising Minimum Wage," May 29, 2014
  4. St. Paul Pioneer Press, "Minnesota ‘unsession’ gets 1,175 obsolete laws off the state’s books," May 28, 2014
  5. Star Tribune, "Minnesota streamlines 1,200 laws under Dayton initiative," May 27, 2014
  6. Associated Press, "'Unsession' axes more than 1,000 outdated laws," May 27, 2014
  7. MinnPost, "So what did Dayton's 'unsession' actually accomplish?" May 23, 2014
  8. Associated Press, "Gov. Dayton Signs Medical Marijuana Bill Into Law," May 29, 2014
  9. Star Tribune, "Some medical marijuana backers back out of Minnesota program," May 29, 2014
  10. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2014," accessed June 2, 2014
  11. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2014," accessed June 2, 2014
  12. Los Angeles Times, "Jerry Brown calls legislative special session to debate reserve plan," April 16, 2014
  13., "Virginia General Assembly returns for special session," March 23, 2014
  14. StateNet, " Daily Session Summary," accessed June 2, 2014
  15. Alaska Statutes, "Section 15.25, Nomination of Candidates," accessed October 31, 2013
  16. Secretary of State Website, "2014 Election Important Dates," accessed November 4, 2013
  17. Running for Public Office, "A 'Plain English' Handbook for Candidates," 2012 Edition, accessed October 21, 2013 (dead link)
  18. Arkansas Code of 1987, "Title 7, Elections," accessed October 30, 2013
  19. Summary of Qualifications and Requirements for the Office of State Senator, Member of the Assembly, "June 3, 2014, Primary Election," accessed October 21, 2013
  20. California Elections Code, "Section 8100-8107," accessed October 28, 2013
  21. California Secretary of State Website, "Key Dates and Deadlines," accessed October 21, 2013
  22. Colorado Secretary of State Website, "Major Political Parties FAQs," accessed October 31, 2013
  23. Colorado Revised Statutes, "Title 1, Elections," accessed October 31, 2013
  24. Connecticut Secretary of State Website, "Frequently Asked Questions, Nominating Papers," accessed October 31, 2013
  25. Florida Department of State Division of Elections, "2013-2014 Dates to Remember," accessed November 6, 2013
  26. 2013 Florida Statutes, "Section 99.061," accessed December 2, 2014
  27. Hawaii State Legislature, "HRS §12-6 Nomination papers: time for filing; fees", accessed May 22, 2013
  28. 2014 Kentucky Election Calendar, accessed November 12, 2013
  29. Kentucky State Board of Elections "Candidate Qualifications and Filing Fees" accessed November 26, 2011
  30. Maine Secretary of State "State of Maine 2014 Candidate's Guide to Ballot Access," accessed February 11, 2014
  31. The State Board of Elections, "Candidacy," accessed November 5, 2013
  32. 2014 Massachusetts State Primary and State Election Schedule, accessed December 2, 2013
  33. Official Election Calendar for the State of Nebraska, accessed November 18, 2014
  34. Texas Secretary of State, "Official candidate list," accessed March 14, 2014
  35., "ELECTION 2014: Senate District 4 race headed for runoff," May 10, 2014
  36. Texas Secretary of State, "Runoff Election Declaration," accessed June 2, 2014
  37. Texas Tribune, "Creighton Easily Wins Special State Senate Race," August 5, 2014
  38., "Special state Senate election date set," November 7, 2013 (dead link)