State Legislative Tracker: Senate recall goes to a recount in Wisconsin

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June 18, 2012

Edited by Greg Janetka

This week's tracker features a sessions update and look at a Wisconsin Senate recall that's headed to a recount.


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This week 9 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. As of May 16, all states had convened their 2012 sessions. No states are projected to adjourn this week.

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


Regular sessions

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

All states have convened their regular 2012 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, June 18, 2012
There are 7,384 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,305 (44.8%)
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. None are currently ongoing. The next is slated to begin in South Carolina on June 19.


A special session concluded shortly after midnight on June 13. The session was initially called only to approve the language of the new budget which goes into effect on July 1, but both chambers voted to expand their authority in order to take up, and subsequently pass along party lines, two lengthy bills.[1]

A number of Republicans disagreed with the expanded scope, as Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R) asked, “Are we becoming a full-time legislature? Does the fact that the constitution sets out dates for us to meet and us to adjourn mean anything to you?” House Minority Leader Larry Cafero (R) stated that the two packed bills were the equivalent of 122 bills and that passing them without a public hearing was not fair to their constituents.[2]

The two bills make many changes, including allowing municipalities to phase in revaluations of property for up to five years, eliminating the 1,248 minimum staffing requirement for state police, enacting a series of jobs promotion initiatives, and taxing "roll -your-out" cigarettes.[2]


Last Friday, some Republicans in the legislature said a special session may be necessary in order to change a law that could hurt the state's budget. The law in question was an emergency declaration made by former Louisiana Department of Revenue Secretary Cynthia Bridges in April that has been interpreted as significantly widening the scope of a tax credit on vehicles. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) rejected the ruling, arguing that Bridges did not follow the law properly. However, it could still go into effect and lawmakers want it clarified or rescinded and say the best way to do that is in a special session.[3]


Maryland, which already held a special session in May, may have another one the week of July 9. An 11-member work group is trying to reach consensus on a plan to expand gambling in the state. If successful, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) said he will call the legislature into session to address the issue. The workgroup is chaired by John Morton III, a business and financial services executive. Other members include four of the governor's staff, three senators appointed by Senate President Thomas Mike Miller, Jr. (D) and three representatives appointed by Speaker of the House Michael Busch (D).[4]

South Carolina

The South Carolina State Legislature adjourned their regular session on June 7, but will begin a special session tomorrow. The special session will address the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and could also include any measures that reached a panel of House and Senate members prior to adjournment.[5]

In recess

As of today, June 18, 3 state's sessions are currently in recess:

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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 45/50 (Maps unfinished: AK, AL, 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)


On June 15, a U.S. District Judge ruled that Alaska's election plans could move forward with the state's interim redistricting map. The lawsuit was filed by a group of Alaska natives. They argue that the map may not be implemented until it is pre-cleared by the DOJ. Specifically, they asked the judge to suspend implementation of the map until their case can be heard by a planned, three-judge panel. While this request was denied, the maps could still be suspended by the panel, placing the state's August 28 primary elections in jeopardy.[7]


On June 7, Republican lawmakers filed suit in US District Court, asking that the congressional map approved by the redistricting commission be prohibited after this year's elections. The lawsuit contends that the voter approved law that allows a commission rather than the legislature to draw congressional districts violates the Constitution. Speaker of the House Andy Tobin (R) stated, "Today, the Legislature is asking the federal courts to bring the constitutional redistricting process back to Arizona's elected representatives."[8]

Last week, U.S. District Judge Paul Rosenblatt granted a motion to create a three-judge panel to hear the case. Rosenblatt will also serve on the commission. The two other members will be appointed by the chief judge of the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.[9]

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.

1,289 (65.4%) 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, 5,999 (81.24%) 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 5,999 seats up for election is 126 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

No states have signature filing deadlines this week.

So far, deadlines have passed in 41 states:

States with upcoming deadlines:


See also: 2012 election dates

There are no state legislative primaries taking place this week.

So far, primaries have taken place in 21 states:

A total of 63 state legislative incumbents have been defeated in a primary.

States with upcoming primaries:

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 has gone to a recount.


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 in April organizers of the Pavlov recall announced they did not have enough signatures and were abandoning their efforts.[10] The Caswell campaign remains active.


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

Recalls against four Republican state senators took place on June 5.[11] Going into the recalls the Senate was tied 16-16, with one vacancy.[12]

Incumbents Scott Fitzgerald (R) and Terry Moulton (R) won easy victories. Republican Jerry Petrowski easily won Pam Galloway's (R) former seat. Unofficial results showed John Lehman (D) defeated Van Wanggaard (R) by 779 votes and he declared victory. Wanggaard considered a recount - the county's board of canvassars had until June 15 to submit final vote totals.[13] With the official canvass showing Lehman winning by 834 votes, Wanggaard called for a recount on June 15.[14]

The recount is scheduled to begin on Wednesday and the county has until July 2 to complete it. Once the results are released, candidates have five business days to appeal in Racine County Circuit Court.[15]

In calling for the recount, Wanggaard released a statement saying “I hope a trusted and verified result of the election will finally allow us to move forward" and that the move "is not about maintaining power." Wanggaard had to pay a fee of $685 to request the recount, but the costs will ultimately fall to the taxpayers of Racine County.[16]

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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
  • August 7: Pennsylvania Senate District 40
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 16
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 26
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 68

See also