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State Legislative Tracker: North Carolina legislators target state income tax

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September 9, 2013

Edited by Joel Williams
This week’s tracker includes a look at North Carolina's potential plan to abolish its income tax.

Weekly highlight

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

  • Alabama: Turnover continues in the Alabama House of Representatives, where District 31's Barry Mask (R) announced his resignation effective September 30. Mask is leaving the chamber to serve as CEO of the Alabama Association of Realtors. Speaking of his time in the legislature, Mask said that "[i]t’s been rewarding. I’ve enjoyed public service even though at times it’s a grind, especially in this climate we’re in." In the same statement, he promised to remain active in his district and community. Mask, first elected in 2006, is the third Republican House member to resign this summer. Jay Love of District 74 and Jim Barton of District 104 both left the chamber in August. Although Gov. Robert Bentley has not yet called a special election for Mask's seat, special elections for the other two vacant seats are underway. Because no Democrat has qualified in either race, Republicans are expected to maintain those seats until they expire in 2014.[1][2][3][4]
  • Massachusetts: Just over a month after a state sales tax on software and information technology services went into effect, Massachusetts legislators may be preparing to repeal it even as opponents attempt to take it to the voting booth. Gov. Deval Patrick (D), House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D) and Senate President Therese Murray (D) held a closed-door meeting with tech industry figures on Wednesday to discuss what to do with the 6.25 percent tech tax. Though a press conference was called off following the meeting, Patrick later issued a statement, saying that the summit had not ended with decisive action. DeLeo and Murray released a statement in which they said that they will pursue further discussion with fellow legislators. The day before, technology companies attempted a flood of phone calls to the legislature, which they deemed the "Beacon Hill Blitz." While the drive met roughly three-quarters of its goal, its organizer, Brian Cardarella, said that there may be a second "Blitz" should repeal legislation make it to the floor. Last month, Sen. Karen Spilka (D), a candidate in the special congressional election for Massachusetts' 5th District, introduced such a bill. Opponents in the tech industry, who say that the law reads so vaguely that they are unsure what IT services are taxable, scored a victory shortly after the meeting, when their initiative to have the tax repealed was certified by the Massachusetts Attorney General; they will need to procure 69,000 valid signatures by December in order for it to appear on the 2014 ballot. House Minority Leader Brad Jones (R) said that Republican representatives would continue to push for a legislative repeal. The tax was included in a transportation finance bill; states with similar taxes include Hawaii, New Mexico and South Dakota.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11]
  • North Carolina: State Senate Finance Committee Co-Chair Bob Rucho (R) announced his interest in repealing the North Carolina state income tax entirely during the 2015 legislative session. Rucho's comments come after a session in which the Republican-controlled legislature made deep cuts in the state's personal and corporate income taxes, including tying future changes in the corporate tax rate to revenues. Instead of the income tax, which Rucho said provides about 61 percent of state revenue but has been volatile during the recent economic slowdown, the state would expand consumption-based sales taxes. North Carolina, which has a Republican governor and Republican majority in the legislature for the first time in many years, joins a long list of states that are either seeking to cut or eliminate their income tax levies. At the beginning of 2013, 10 Republican governors announced their interest in cutting or eliminating income taxes. As of August 2013, changes in income tax laws from this session may result in less revenue amounting to approximately $1.9 billion in Fiscal Year 2014, according to a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures. The report cited large personal income tax cuts in Iowa, Maine, Ohio, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. Proponents of income tax cuts generally argue that shifting to sales or property taxes provides a more stable tax base and improves the business climate in states. Opponents of income tax cuts usually argue that shifting to other revenue sources makes the tax code more regressive, disproportionately hurting those with lower incomes.[12][13][14][15][16][17]
  • Oregon: Governor John Kitzhaber (D) told lawmakers this week to prepare for a potential special session on September 30th to deal with tax and pension questions. The package to be voted on in the special session will be similar to a deal that failed to pass in July when Democrats could not get the two Republican votes needed for approval. The only Republican to vote in favor of the package was Bruce Starr. Republicans were unwilling to pass the package in July because Democrats were not willing to include a proposal by Senators Brian Boquist (R) and Larry George (R) to give a $150 million tax cut to small business owners. The new package would cut long-term liabilities of the Public Employees Retirement System by $5 billion and boost tax revenue by $200 million. Kitzhaber said on the need of the new package that, "Time is short. Unless we act now, students returning to school this week will continue to face cuts in the classroom. Even with increased funding this year, few districts have been able to restore all of the teaching positions and school days lost during years of cuts." Kitzhaber said "he is committed to including support [for small businesses] into the new legislation." Passing the new package will require support from both parties because Democrats in the Senate and House do not hold enough votes for approval without Republican support.[18][19][20][21]

As of today, September 9, 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 3,446 46.6%
Republican state legislators 3,826 51.8%
Independent (and nonpartisan) state legislators 67 0.91%
Third party (and non-voting) legislators 12 0.16%
Vacancies 36 0.49%

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 September 9, 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 April 6, 2015, 1,911 state senators are 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 5,413 state representatives.

As of September 9, 2013, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

  • Democratic Party 20 chambers
  • Republican Party 29 chambers

Cumulative numbers

As of April 6, 2015, 5,367 state representatives are 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 September 9, 2013
See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2013 session information.

Currently four out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session.

As of April 8, all states states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions.[22]

The following states have ended their regular session:[23]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, April 27, 2015
There are 7,387 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,446 (46.6%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,826 (51.8%)
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 46
Total Special Sessions 16

The Minnesota State Legislature will meet this week to discuss a $4.5 million disaster aid bill. Although lawmakers agreed that the disaster aid bill would be the only one discussed during this session, legislators proposed numerous other bills including the repeal of recent sales tax increases and bills related to the construction of the Minnesota Vikings' new stadium. The special session is expected to be fairly brief.[24]


The Oklahoma State Legislature is meeting in a special session that began on September 3. The special session was called by Gov. Mary Fallin after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that a 2009 lawsuit reform package was unconstitutional because it had more than one subject. Legislators filed thirty bills for this special session on a number of subjects to address this issue.[25]

In recess

As of today, September 9, there are 5 state legislatures currently in recess:[26]

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 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)
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.[27]

  • 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.[28]


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:[29]

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.[30]

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.[31][32] 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.[33]

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 are three special elections scheduled for this week in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts House of Representatives 6th Bristol District

Rep. David Sullivan (D) resigned on April 29 to become the executive director of the Fall River Housing Authority. A special election has been called for September 10, with a primary on August 13. Candidates had until July 9 to file certified nomination papers with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.[34][35]

September 10 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Carole A. Fiola
Republican Party David L. Steinhof

Massachusetts House of Representatives 12th Suffolk District

Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry (D) won election to the Massachusetts State Senate on May 28, 2013. A special election has been called for September 10, with a primary on August 13. Candidates had until July 9 to file certified nomination papers with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.[36][37]

Democratic Party August 13 Democratic primary:
September 10 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Dan Cullinane

Massachusetts House of Representatives 16th Worcester District

Rep. John Fresolo (D) resigned following an ethics investigation on May 22 saying that he was "not currently effective." A special election has been called for September 10, with a primary on August 13. Candidates had until July 9 to file certified nomination papers with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.[38][39]

September 10 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Daniel M. Donahue
Republican Party Carol E. Claros

Recent results

August 27, 2013

Sen. Seth Goodall (D) resigned on July 8 to serve as New England District Representative of the Small Business Association. A special election was called for August 27. Major parties had until July 31 to file a nomination for the ballot.[40][41][42][43][44][45]

August 27 Special election candidates:

Democratic Party Eloise Vitelli Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Paula Benoit
Green Party Daniel Stromgren

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
  • September 17: California State Assembly District 45
  • September 17: California State Senate District 26
  • September 17: New Hampshire House of Representatives Hillsborough District 14
  • September 24: California State Assembly District 52
  • October 1: South Carolina State Senate District 42
  • October 15: Florida House of Representatives District 36

See also


  1., "State Rep. Barry Mask becomes third Republican House member to resign this summer," September 3, 2013
  2. South Union Street, "Rep. Jim Barton resigning to lobby, becomes latest House leader to step down," accessed September 6, 2013
  3., "Gov. Robert Bentley changes dates for Alabama House special election in Mobile County," August 10, 2013
  4., "Sellers Launches Website in House District 74," August 30, 2013
  5. Government Technology, "Massachusetts Revisits Controversial Tech Tax," September 4, 2013
  6. CRN, "Look Out Massachusetts Tech Tax, Repeal Movement Is Gaining Ground," September 4, 2013
  7. State House News Service, "Tech Tax Summit ends in confusion," September 5, 2013
  8. Boston Herald, "No results from tech tax talk," September 5, 2013
  9. Shrewsbury Chronicle, "Tech tax proves taxing for businesses," September 4, 2013
  10. WWLP, "Private gov meeting on tech tax inconclusive," September 4, 2013 (dead link)
  11. Associated Press, "State Sen. Spilka filing bill to repeal expansion of sales tax to computer software services," August 14, 2013
  12. The Washington Post, "North Carolina Republicans will aim to ax income tax," September 4, 2013
  13. The Associated Press, "National tax cut battle turns intense in Missouri," August 27, 2013
  14. NPR, "The Travails Of Cutting State Taxes," February 21, 2013
  15. Bloomberg BNA, "NCSL Report: States Enacted $1.3 Billion In Tax Cuts in 2013 Legislative Sessions," August 13, 2013
  16. Stateline, "As Revenues Rebounded, Many States Cut Taxes," June 12, 2013
  17. U.S. News and World Report, "What’s the Matter with Kansas’ Tax Policy?" June 13, 2013
  18., "John Kitzhaber: cuts to PERS, new taxes needed for coming school year," accessed September 5, 2013
  19., "John Kitzhaber stumps for Sept. 30 special session on PERS, taxes," accessed September 5, 2013
  20., "Kitzhaber: Special session target Sept. 30," accessed September 5, 2013
  21., "Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber shoots for Sept. 30 special session," accessed September 5, 2013
  22. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed September 9, 2013
  23. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed September 9, 2013
  24., "Minnesota Legislature's special session on disaster relief under way," September 9, 2013
  25., "State lawmakers to address lawsuit reform law in special session," September 2, 2013
  26., "Daily Session Summary," accessed August 26, 2013 (dead link)
  27. New Jersey Department of State, "Petition filing instruction sheet," accessed January 14, 2013 (dead link)
  28. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidacy Requirements for House of Delegates," accessed January 16, 2013
  29., "Polls close in 2013 N.J. primary elections as votes are tallied," June 4, 2013
  30. Washington Post, "Voter turnout sparse for down-ticket races in Virginia," June 11, 2013
  31. CBS DC, "Virginia Primary Results Roll In," June 11, 2013
  32., "Howell’s transportation PAC helping candidates," June 7, 2013
  33. WRIC, "Virginia Primary Round Up," June 11, 2013
  34., "Aug. 13, Sept. 10 set as special election dates to replace Sullivan," May 13, 2013
  35., "Primary Candidates," accessed July 19, 2013
  36., "Another special election: Dates set in race to replace Dorcena Forry," June 5, 2013
  37., "Primary Candidates," accessed July 19, 2013
  38., "Special election to fill State Rep. Fresolo's seat announced," May 23, 2013
  39., "Primary Candidates," accessed July 19, 2013
  40. The Bangor Daily News, "Goodall resigns Senate District 19 seat to take post with Small Business Administration," July 10, 2013
  41., "Maine Senate special election set for Aug. 27," July 15, 2013 (dead link)
  42., "Stromgren gets nod for Senate District 19 race," July 18, 2013
  43., "SENATE DISTRICT 19Dems pick Eloise Vitelli as candidate," July 23, 2013
  44., "Sagadahoc caucuses tap Benoit, Stromgren, Vitelli for special Senate election," July 24, 2013
  45., "Democrat wins election for Senate District 19 seat," August 27, 2013