State Legislative Tracker: North Carolina the last state to convene 2012 session

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May 21, 2012

Edited by Greg Janetka

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This week's tracker features a sessions update and look at the special session currently underway in Alabama.


This week 16 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. No states are scheduled to convene this week, while Oklahoma is expected to adjourn.

Thirty states have adjourned for the year, while four states - Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas - will not hold regular sessions in 2012.

Current sessions capture for the week of May 21, 2012

Regular sessions

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

As of this week all state have convened their regular legislative sessions:

The following states have ended their regular session:

Click here to see a chart of each state's 2012 session information.

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, May 21, 2012
There are 7,384 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,304 (44.7%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,968 (53.7%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 36
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 58
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 5
2012 Session Information
Total Special Elections 25
Total Special Sessions 12

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.

Since the beginning of 2012, there have been 12 special sessions in 9 states. One is ongoing.


Following the end of the 2012 regular session last Wednesday, Gov. Robert Bentley (R) called for a special session to begin the next day. He designated five topics for the legislature to consider: redistricting legislation, legislation addressing constitutional amendments, budget-supporting legislation, revisions for Alabama's immigration law, and appropriation of tobacco settlement funds.[1]

Bentley signed the immigration enforcement law on Friday, despite the fact that the legislature did not enact reforms he had mentioned. Lawmakers appeared ready to pass a bill that would have changed the law to address concerns by many that it went too far. Instead they passed a stricter one.[2]

Today began day three of the special session, with lawmakers taking up new legislative districts. They will first be used in the 2014 elections.[3]


Colorado concluded a special session last Wednesday to deal with the issue of civil unions as well as other unresolved issues that Republican House leaders stopped action on. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) called the session, stating, “Transparency, accountability and the virtues of good government are compromised when the legislative clock is used to avoid consideration of important legislation. We owe it to the people we serve to do better.”[4]

The civil unions proposal failed in a Republican-led House committee, as did most of the bills the governor asked legislators to take up.[5]


Gov. Martin O'Malley called legislators back into session on May 14 to deal with lingering budget issues.[6] The session adjourned May 16 with the passage of a revenue package that will raise income taxes on 14 percent of Maryland taxpayers and make counties responsible for some teacher pension costs.[7]

There has been talk of another special session in July in order to address gambling expansion. Many have expressed their reluctance to return to the legislature and doubts about the usefulness of another special session.[8]


While a date has yet to be set, the Utah State Legislature will have to return for a special session in order to address a budget error which resulted in a $28 million mistake in the calculation of funds for new student growth.[9]

In recess

As of today, May 21, 1 state's session is currently in recess:

State news

Redistricting Facts
Maps submitted for vote: 135 out of 142 (95.1%)** No votes on initial maps in the following: AL (2), KS (1), ME (2), MT (2)
States that have completed Congressional Maps 42/43 (Maps unfinished: KS)
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 45/50 (Maps unfinished: AL, KS, ME, MS, 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)


Last Monday, the Alaska Redistricting Board approved changes to the state legislative map in an effort satisfy instructions issued by the state Supreme Court. The plan is the Board's third attempt to redraw Alaska's legislative districts. The first two attempts were overturned by the courts.[11]


Last week, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach responded to a federal lawsuit over redistricting. The plaintiff argues that redistricting delays have left outdated and unequal districts in place and constitute a violation of her right to equal representation. Kobach's filing asks the court to create a three-judge panel to redraw Kansas' congressional, legislative, and Board of Education districts.[12]

Kobach also suggested that court could select one of the maps under consideration in the legislature or that he himself could redraw the lines.[13] Kobach maintains that redistricting is a task for the legislature, but contends that the long delays forced his hand. Kobach called the delays a "constitutional crisis."[14] Several legislative leaders have requested to intervene in the case. Gov. Sam Brownback may also seek to intervene.[15]

Meanwhile, the Kansas State Senate approved a chamber map and the Kansas House of Representatives approved a congressional map. Neither map in its present form seems likely to win approval by the opposite chamber.[16][17]

  • Documents in the court case can be found here.
See also: State legislative elections, 2012 and State legislative elections results, 2012
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A total of 86 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 6, 2012.

1,272 (64.5%) of the country's 1,971 state senate seats are up for election in November 2012, and 4,712 (87.05%) of the country's 5,413 state house seats are up for election. Altogether, 5,984 (81.04%) of the country's 7,384 state legislative seats will be up for election during the presidential election year.

  • 43 of the 50 state senates are holding elections.
  • 43 of the 49 state houses are holding elections.

The 5,984 seats up for election is 141 fewer than the 6,125 that were contested in 2010.

Filing deadlines

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 state government elections and 2012 Elections preview: Comparing state legislative filing deadlines

One state - Georgia - has its' signature filing deadline this week.

So far, deadlines have passed in 28 states:

States with upcoming deadlines:


See also: 2012 election dates

State legislative primaries taking place this week: Arkansas and Kentucky.

So far, primaries have taken place in nine states:

A total of 23 state legislative incumbents have been defeated in a primary.

States with upcoming primaries:

Note: Texas was originally scheduled to hold their primary on March 6. However, with newly drawn state legislative maps being fought in the courts, the date was moved to May 29.
Currently, 18 states permit the recall of state officials. Between 1913 and 2008, there were just 20 state legislative recall elections in five states. Of the 20 state legislative recall elections, 13 out of 20 resulted in the state legislator being recalled. In 2011, there were 11 state legislative recalls in three states, 4 of which resulted in the legislator being recalled. In 2012, there are currently 4 scheduled state legislative recalls.


2011 saw a wave of recall attempts in Michigan. While most of those efforts dried up, at least two campaigns continued on (the recall of Paul Scott was successful on November 8, 2011). Organizers of the campaigns to recall Bruce Caswell (R) and Phil Pavlov (R) set their sights on the August 2012 ballot, but last month organizers of the Pavlov recall announced they did not have enough signatures and were abandoning their efforts.[18] The Caswell campaign remains active.


See also: Timeline of events of the recall of Wisconsin State Senators in 2012

Recalls are scheduled against four state senators. The primary took place on May 8 with general elections on June 5.[19] Absentee voting for all races began today.[20]

Democrats in Wisconsin filed recall petitions on November 15, 2011 against four Republican state senators - Pam Galloway, Scott Fitzgerald, Terry Moulton and Van Wanggaard.[21] Campaign organizers turned in more than the necessary number of signatures in each of the four races on January 17, 2012.

The Republican Party ran protest candidates (Republicans who ran as Democrats) in each of the primaries in order to ensure all recalls would take place on the same date. The "fake" candidates were all defeated, taking between 27.9 and 35.8 percent.

Matchups for the June 5 recalls are as follows:

District 13 - Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R) faces Democrat Lori Compas, an organizer of the recall, and Libertarian Terry Virgil.
District 21 - Sen. Van Wanggaard (R) faces former state Sen. John Lehman (D).
District 23 - Sen. Terry Moulton (R) faces former Democratic state legislator Kristen Dexter.
District 29 - Sen. Pam Galloway (R)

Galloway resigned, but the recall against her continues as scheduled. State Rep. Jerry Petrowski (R) is running in her place and will face Democratic state Rep. Donna Seidel.

See also: State legislative special elections, 2012

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

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • July 17: South Carolina Senate District 41
  • July 24: South Carolina House District 68
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 16
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 26
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 68

See also


  1. WNCF, "Gov. Bentley Calls Special Session, Redistricting Among Top Priorities," May 17, 2012
  2. New York Times, "Alabama Gets Strict Immigration Law as Governor Relents," May 18, 2012
  3. The Republic, "Alabama House, Senate to debate new legislative districts on 3rd day of special session," May 21, 2012
  4. Pueblo Chieftain, "Civil Union supporters rally prior to special session," May 14, 2012
  5. Daily Camera, "Colorado Legislature's special session ends; little done," May 16, 2012
  6. Maryland Reporter, "State Roundup, May 7," May 7, 2012
  7. Baltimore Sun, "General Assembly raises income tax on top 14 percent," May 16, 2012
  8. Baltimore Sun, "One special session down, another to go?," May 20, 2012
  9. Cache Valley Daily, "Special session may be called for $28 million mistake," May 21, 2012
  10. StateScape, Session schedules," accessed May 14, 2012
  11. Real Clear Politics, "Redistricting board redraws southeast Alaska," May 14, 2012
  12. Kansas City Star, "Kobach asks federal court to settle Kansas redistricting issue," May 16, 2012
  13. blog, "Kobach proposes courts — or he — redraw legislative districts," May 16, 2012
  14. Kansas City Business Journal, "Judge sets hearing in Kansas redistricting case," May 18, 2012
  15. Kansas City Star, "Kansas governor may seek to intervene in redistricting lawsuit," May 19, 2012 (dead link)
  16. KAKE, "Kansas Senate Approves Remap Favored By Moderates," May 18, 2012
  17. CNBC, "Kansas House approves new congressional map," May 18, 2012 (dead link)
  18. The Times Herald, "State Sen. Phil Pavlov recall fails," April 13, 2012
  19. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Recall votes set for May 8 and June 5," March 14, 2012
  20. WTAQ, "Absentee balloting begins today in recall elections," May 21, 2012
  21. FOX 6 Now, "Recall paperwork filed Tuesday for four senators, including Van Wanggaard," November 15, 2011