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State Legislative Tracker: Pre-filed bills in Alabama and Kentucky

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October 15, 2012

Edited by Greg Janetka
This week's tracker features a look at pre-filed bills in Alabama and Kentucky that could become major issues in 2013.

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Weekly highlight

Alabama recalls

While the majority of state legislative recall efforts around the country have failed, most recently the ones targeting four Louisiana representatives, one Alabama state senator is trying to give citizens in his state to power to recall elected state officials.

Senate Minority Leader Roger Bedford (D) pre-filed a bill that would make Alabama the 20th state with recall laws. Under his bill, officials would be eligible to be recalled after a year in office due to malfeasance or nonfeasance, lack of physical or mental fitness, incompetence or violation of an oath of office. A recall petition would have to be filed with the Secretary of State and, within 90 days, organizers would have to collect signatures equal to at least 25% of the vote cast for the office in the last election.[1]

Current Alabama law only allows for the recall of municipal commissioners and mayors.

Kentucky pensions

Like many other states, Kentucky is facing large projected shortfalls when it comes to funding pensions. Democratic state Rep. Steve Riggs has introduced a bill that, he says, wouldn't solve the problem but would be a step in the right direction.

In a press release on October 8, he stated, “This bill will not solve the sizable pension liability Kentucky is now facing, but I think it is a symbolic gesture that is far more reasonable for my legislative colleagues and me and far more sustainable than our current system.”[2]

Currently, legislative pensions in Kentucky are equal to 2.75% to 5% of the salary multiplied by the number of years served, while regular state pensions equal 1.1% to 2.5% of salary multiplied by years served. Starting in 2005, retiring legislators holding full-time jobs with the state could base their legislative pension on this higher salary, rather than their actual legislative salary.[3]

Under Riggs' bill, lawmakers would be prevented from increasing benefits with other jobs after they leave the General Assembly. Additionally, it would create a 401(k)-style pension plan for new legislators and alter the pensions of lawmakers retiring after the bill takes effect, basing benefits on their five highest paid years rather than three.[2]

Meanwhile, a group of Republican candidates and an independent candidate recently called for an end to state legislative pensions altogether. They have backed state Rep. David Floyd's (R) pre-filed bills which would do just that.[4]


As of today, October 15, 2012, the following figures represent the cumulative partisan breakdown of the 50 state senates and 49 state houses. In the 50 states, Republicans currently control 53.4% of all seats while Democrats hold 44.7%. All told, Republicans control 58 chambers while Democrats are the majority in 37 chambers. Three chambers are tied, while one is nonpartisan.

The totals represent a gain of one Democratic legislator and loss of four Republican legislators from the September 17 Tracker.

Representation in 50 State Legislatures
Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state legislators 3,301 44.7%
Republican state legislators 3,956 53.4%
Independent state legislators 71 0.96%
Third party (and non-voting) legislators 12 0.16%
Vacancies 33 0.44%

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 1,971 state senators.

As of October 9, 2012, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

See also: Partisan composition of state houses

Cumulative numbers

As of October 9, 2012, 1,899 state senators are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state senators 872 44.2%
Republican state senators 1,027 52.1%
Nonpartisan state senators 49 2.49%
Independent state senators 4 0.2%
Third Party state senators 2 0.10%
Vacancies 8 0.40%


There are 9 state senate vacancies in 8 states as of October 9, 2012.

State Vacancies
California 1
Kentucky 1
Massachusetts 1
Mississippi 1
Montana 1
Nevada 2
Wisconsin 1


There are 6 state senators in 5 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Representative as of October 9, 2012. They are as follows:

State Independents/Third Party
Alabama 1 (Independent)
Kentucky 1 (Independent)
Maine 1 (Independent)
Rhode Island 1 (Independent)
Vermont 2 (Vermont Progressive Party)

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 October 9, 2012, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

  • Democratic Party 18 chambers
  • Republican Party 30 chambers
  • Purple.png 1 chamber (Oregon)

Cumulative numbers

As of October 9, 2012, 5,348 state representatives are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state representatives 2,429 44.9%
Republican state representatives 2,919 53.9%
Independent state representatives 18 0.33%
Third party (and non-voting) representatives 10 0.18%
Vacancies 25 0.46%


There are 25 state house vacancies in 19 different states as of October 9, 2012. They are as follows:

State Vacancies
Alabama 1
Arkansas 1
Florida 1
Georgia 2
Hawaii 1
Iowa 1
Kentucky 1
Maine 2
Minnesota 1
Mississippi 1
New Hampshire 2
New York 1
North Carolina 1
Oklahoma 2
Pennsylvania 3
Texas 1
Vermont 1
Virginia 1
Wisconsin 1


There are 28 state representatives in 13 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Representative as of October 9, 2012. They are as follows:

State Independents/Third Party
Arizona 1 (Independent)
Georgia 1 (Independent)
Louisiana 2 (Independent)
Maine 4 (3 non-voting Native American representatives, 1 Independent)
Missouri 4 (Independent)
New Hampshire 2 (Independent)
New Mexico 1 (Independent)
New York 1 (Independence Party of New York)
South Dakota 1 (Independent)
Tennessee 1 (Carter County Republican)
Vermont 8 (5 Vermont Progressive Party, 3 Independent)
Virginia 1 (Independent)
Wisconsin 1 (Independent)

This week 4 out of 50 state legislatures - Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania - are meeting in regular session, while Massachusetts is meeting in informal session, which it will continue to do throughout the rest of the year. As of May 16, all states had convened their 2012 sessions.

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.

Current sessions capture for the week of October 15, 2012

Regular sessions

See also: Dates of 2012 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 and North Dakota, while prefiling of legislation is going on in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Virginia.[5]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, October 15, 2012
There are 7,383 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,301 (44.7%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,946 (53.4%)
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 32
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.

Since the beginning of 2012, there have been 20 special sessions in 16 states. There are no special sessions currently scheduled.

In recess

As of today, October 15, 4 state's sessions are currently in recess:

  • California - In recess from September 1, 2012 to November 29, 2012.[6]
  • Illinois - In recess from August 17, 2012 to November 27, 2012.[7]
  • New York - In recess from June 22, 2012 to January 8, 2013.[6]
  • Wisconsin - In recess from March 17 to December 31, 2012.[6]
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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 Alabama

See also: Redistricting in Alabama

October 5, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange announced that the US Department of Justice officially approved of the 2012 redistricting plan for the state House and Senate. The process in Alabama was an extended one, with the governor forced to call a special session after legislators initially failed to accomplish the task.[8]

Redistricting on the ballot

See also: Redistricting measures on the ballot

This year voters in five states will go to the polls to cast their vote on proposed changes to their state's redistricting process. The measures are as follows:

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.

1,301 (65.97%) of the country's 1,972 state senate seats are up for election in November 2012, and 4,714 (87.12%) of the country's 5,411 state house seats are up for election. Altogether, 6,015 (81.47%) of the country's 7,383 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 6,015 seats up for election is 110 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

As of July 12, all signature filing deadlines had passed.


See also: 2012 election dates

The 2012 state legislative primary session began on March 6 in Ohio and wrapped up for the year in New York on September 13.

A total of 198 state legislative incumbents were defeated in a primary - 124 Republicans and 74 Democrats.

Primaries took place in 44 states in 2012. For a review of what happened, click on the state below:

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, four of which resulted in the legislator being recalled. In 2012, there have been four state legislative recalls - three have failed while one succeeded.


Recall efforts targeting three Republican members of the Louisiana House of Representatives - Kevin Pearson, George Cromer and Ray Garofalo - all failed to collect enough signatures by the October deadline in order to go to a vote.[9]

A fourth representative, Speaker of the House Charles "Chuck" Kleckley, was also facing a potential recall. That effort, however, failed to collect enough signatures by the September 18 deadline and the signatures that were collected were never turned in.[10]

The legislators were targeted primarily because of their support for controversial public education reforms backed by Gov. Bobby Jindal (R).[11] There had been little news about the campaigns since they began.


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 both were ultimately abandoned.[12]

Following several attempts to get recall language approved against Sen. Randy Richardville, organizers succeeded on June 12, 2012. The approved petition language against Richardville states that one reason for the recall is Richardville's support for a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.[13]

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See also: State legislative special elections, 2012

So far in 2012 there have been 32 special elections in 13 states.

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

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • November 6: Kentucky Senate District 19
  • November 6: Mississippi State Senate District 19 and House District 52
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly Districts 16, 26, 68
  • December 4: Wisconsin State Senate District 33
  • December 11: Alabama House of Representatives Districts 30, 34
  • 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