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State Legislative Tracker: Newly elected legislators assume office in three states

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November 19, 2012

Edited by Greg Janetka
This week's tracker features a breakdown of when state legislators will be sworn into office and a look at 2013 elections.

Weekly highlight

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When legislators are sworn in

See also: Swearing-in dates of state legislators elected on November 6, 2012 and When state legislators assume office after a general election

While votes are still being counted in many areas, some newly elected and re-elected state legislators have already been sworn into office. The 6,015 candidates who won seats on November 6 will progressively be sworn-in from now until February.

In 34 of the 44 states that held elections this year, legislators who are elected in November don't assume office until 2013, while in 10 states, legislators assume office before December 31.

Three states - Hawaii, Indiana, and South Carolina - have already sworn in their new legislators. Florida will join the party tomorrow, with Oklahoma on Wednesday. Another five states - North Dakota, Idaho, California, New Hampshire, and Maine - will swear in legislators-elect between December 1 and December 5.

Thirty-three states will swear-in legislators between January 1 and January 28. Nevada legislators-elect have the longest wait to officially be sworn into office. While their terms begin on the first Wednesday after the first Monday in November (the day after election day), legislators are not officially sworn in until the first Monday in February following the election. Per the Nevada constitution, the term of the incumbent leaving office ends on the day after the election. Thus they won't officially be sworn-in until February 4, 2013.

2013 elections preview

See also: State legislative elections, 2013

As an election-fatigued nation bids adieu to the 2012 elections, take heart - next year will be a quiet one, at least as far as state legislatures are concerned. While 86 of the country's 99 legislative chambers were up for election in 2012, only 3 chambers will be up in 2013 - the New Jersey State Senate, New Jersey General Assembly, and Virginia House of Delegates. Virginia will not hold any state senate elections in 2013.

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.


This week 3 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting - New Jersey and Ohio are meeting in regular session, while Massachusetts is meeting in informal session, which it will continue to do throughout the rest of the year.

Forty states have adjourned for the year, while four states - Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas - were not scheduled to hold regular sessions in 2012. The first 2013 session is scheduled to begin on December 3 in California.

Current sessions capture for the week of November 19, 2012

Regular sessions

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions and Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2012 session information.

Although most states have concluded 2012 business, some states have already begun 2013 action. Drafting for 2013 has begun in Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Wyoming, while prefiling of legislation is going on in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Virginia, Tennessee and Texas.[1]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, November 19, 2012
There are 7,383 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,301 (44.7%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,947 (53.5%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 37
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 58
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 4
2012 Session Information
Total Special Elections 39
Total Special Sessions 20

In 2011, special sessions were a widespread occurrence in state legislatures. This was largely due to states' having to complete the redistricting process for legislative and congressional districts. Overall in 2011, there were 45 special sessions in 28 states.

During 2012, there have been 20 special sessions in 16 states. There are no special sessions currently scheduled.

In recess

As of today, November 19, 6 state's sessions are currently in recess:

  • California - In recess from September 1, 2012 to November 29, 2012.[2]
  • Illinois - In recess from August 17, 2012 to November 27, 2012.[3]
  • Michigan - In recess November 9, 2012 to November 26, 2012.[2]
  • New York - In recess from June 22, 2012 to January 8, 2013.[2]
  • Pennsylvania - In recess until November 30, 2012.[2]
  • Wisconsin - In recess from March 17 to December 31, 2012.[2]
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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 43/43
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 48/50 (Maps unfinished: ME, MT)
**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)

Redistricting in Kentucky

See also: Redistricting in Kentucky

On November 15, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ordered the Legislative Research Commission to pay the full amount of attorney fees billed by plaintiffs in the case that saw the Kentucky Supreme Court overturn the newly drawn legislative districts.[4]

In August, Judge Shepherd ruled that the LRC would have to pay attorneys fees for House Republicans and Democratic Sen. Jill Stein. The LRC, which consists of the majority and minority leaders from both chambers, used money from the legislative budget to oppose the lawsuit. The bill comes to a total of $186,855.51.[5]

Redistricting in Utah

See also: Redistricting in Utah

Following a year-long partisan fight, Republican legislative leaders on November 16 posted some 16,000 redistricting related documents online after Democrats sued for their release. Democrats filed an open records request for the documents in October 2011. According to Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis, his party was told the work would cost approximately $5,000. However, when they went to pick up the records, they were told the cost was actually $14,250. For their $5,000 Democrats were allowed access to one of the three boxes of records. Republican Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart said her party decided to finally post all the records online because the taxpayers have paid for the cost that Democrats did not pick up and there was no reason to spend any additional money in the courts.[6][7]

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See also: State legislative special elections, 2012 and State legislative special elections, 2013

So far in 2012 there have been 39 special elections in 16 states.

There are no special elections scheduled to take place this week.

Recent election results

New Jersey Assembly District 16: Peter Biondi (R) passed away on November 10, 2011 after a battle with cancer.[8] Local party officials selected Donna Simon (R) to serve in the interim.[9][10] While Simon initially declared victory in the special election for the seat held on November 6, Corfield refused to concede as many ballots remained outstanding and unofficial results showed Simon leading Corfield by about 1,700 votes.[11] An update on November 14 showed Simon's lead increase by 226 votes. The Hunterdon County Clerk, Mary Melfi, said there were still outstanding ballots to count.[12]

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • November 27: Mississippi State Senate District 19 and House District 52 (Runoffs)
  • December 4: Wisconsin State Senate District 33
  • December 11: Alabama House of Representatives Districts 30, 34
  • December 11: Iowa State Senate District 22
  • December 18: Kentucky State Senate District 16
  • December 18: Virginia House of Delegates District 89
  • January 8, 2013: California State Senate District 4
  • January 8, 2013: Georgia State Senate District 30

See also