State Legislative Tracker: Shut down in Minnesota government as no budget deal reached

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July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July from Ballotpedia!

By Jackie Arthur

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In this week's State Legislative Tracker there are 7 states still in regular session.


So far this year, 41 out of 50 state legislative sessions have officially adjourned. This week, no states are scheduled to adjourn their 2011 session.

States that adjourned last week:

Special sessions

Special sessions are expected to be a widespread occurrence in the state legislatures in 2011, in particular due to the necessity of states to conduct the redistricting of state legislative and congressional districts.

As of this week, California, Virginia and Wisconsin continue their special sessions.

Special sessions that ended last week were:

This week, no states are scheduled to adjourn their special sessions.

A total of 13 special sessions have adjourned this year in Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

Regular sessions

Current sessions capture as of June 20, 2011

The following 5 states remain in regular legislative sessions:

  • Note: California and Wisconsin are both convened in ongoing special sessions, but are still considered to be in regular session.
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2011 session information.

Sessions spotlight

This week, our spotlight focuses on Minnesota, which is experiencing its second governmental shutdown since 2005.[1] Also, an update on California and Iowa which were featured in last week's tracker.

Minnesota: On Friday, July 1, the Minnesota government officially entered "shut down," as lawmakers were not able to overcome the budget stalemate.

As of today, the 4th of July, the shut down continues. Most fireworks, picnics and celebrations were called off as all government services except those deemed essential were cut off for the immediate future. Campgrounds, state parks, highway rest stops, golf courses, and zoos will close until a budget agreement can be reached. Thousands of workers face layoffs, a cessation of state issued drivers licenses and road construction screeching to a halt.[1] Roughly 23,000 of approximately 36,000 state employees will be furloughed, and all but the most critical state functions suspended.[2] Some of the services spared from the shutdown are police patrols, prison staffing, the executive and legislative branches of state government and the courts, and programs such as food stamps, Medicaid and temporary assistance to needy families.[2]

The Republican controlled Legislature and Democratic Governor Mark Dayton have been at odds since early January over spending. Earlier this year, Dayton vetoed the Legislature's proposed budget, largely because it did not contain the revenue he had anticipated.[3]

To help solve the problem, Governor Dayton requested that Ramsey County District Judge Kathleen Gearin appoint a mediator to intervene. Legislators also petitioned the judge, asking her to order Dayton to call for a special legislative session. Both requests were turned down.

According to attorney Fritz Knaak, the budget impasse would have gone away if Dayton had called for a special session. "He has a duty to call a special session," Knaak said. Dayton responded by calling the lawmakers' requests "a publicity stunt."[2]

California: On June 30, Governor Jerry Brown signed California's second on-time, balanced budget in a decade, calling it "an honest but painful budget."[4]

After Democratic California Controller John Chiag's decision to stop legislator's pay on June 22, legislators finally agreed to a $129-billion package that was signed by the Governor on June 30. Under Chiang's decision, most lawmakers lost about $260 salary per day, and $142 in tax-free travel and living expenses.[5] California legislators are paid $95,290.56 per year. They also receive $141.86 per day in per diem.

Though the budget has been signed, the fight is far from over. Brown and legislative Democrats have indicated they will now begin to decide which taxes to seek through a ballot initiative next year, citing the need for more revenue to help fund the budget cuts.[4]

Iowa: The third-largest legislative session in Iowa history adjourned Thursday, June 30. Agreements were reached on a health and human services budget bill and a $5.99 billion general budget. One important issue, property tax reform, was not resolved.[6]

Partisan breakdown

As of July 1, the following figures represent the cumulative partisan breakdown of the 50 state senates and state houses. In the 50 states, Republicans currently control 53.62% of all seats while Democrats hold 44.97%. All told, Republicans control 57 chambers while Democrats are the majority in 37 chambers.

Representation in 50 State Legislatures
Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state legislators 3,321 44.97%
Republican state legislators 3,958 53.60%
Independent state legislators 68 0.92%
Third party (and non-voting) legislators 11 0.15%
Vacancies 26 0.35%

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 July 1, 2011, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

  • Democratic Party 18 chambers
  • Republican Party 29 chambers
  • Purple.png 1 chamber (Oregon)
See also: Partisan composition of state senates

Cumulative numbers

As of July 1, 2011 5,365 state representatives are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state representatives 2,442 45.11%
Republican state representatives 2,923 54.00%
Independent state representatives 15 0.27%
Third party (and non-voting) representatives 9 0.17%
Vacancies 24 0.44%


There are 24 state house vacancies in 13 different states as of July 1, 2011. They are as follows:

State Vacancies
Arkansas 1
Georgia 2
Illinois 3
Maine 1
Missouri 4
New Hampshire 3
New Jersey 1
New York 4
South Carolina 1
Texas 1
Utah 1
Vermont 1
Wisconsin 1


There are 24 state representatives in 11 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Representative as of July 1, 2011. They are as follows:

State Independents/Third Party
Georgia 1 (Independent)
Louisiana 4 (Independent)
Maine 3 (2 non-voting Native American representatives, 1 Independent)
New Mexico 1 (Independent)
New York 1 (Independence Party of New York)
North Carolina 1 (Independent)
South Dakota 1 (Independent)
Tennessee 1 (Carter County Republican)
Vermont 8 (5 Vermont Progressive Party, 3 Independent)
Virginia 2 (Independent)
Wisconsin 1 (Independent)
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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 July 1, 2011, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

See also: Partisan composition of state houses

Cumulative numbers

As of July 1, 2011, 1,914 state senators are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state senators 879 44.60%
Republican state senators 1,035 52.51%
Nonpartisan state senators 49 2.5%
Independent/Progressive state senators 6 0.30%
Vacancies 2 .10%


There are 2 state senate vacancies as of July 1, 2011.


There are 6 state senators in 5 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Representative as of July 1, 2011. 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)


A total of 578 seats will be up for general election in state legislatures in 2011.

Three state legislative primaries remain in Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia. New Jersey held statewide primaries on June 7, 2011. The next primary will be in Mississippi on August 2, 2011.

The next state with a signature filing deadline is Louisiana on September 8. Virginia's signature filing deadline was June 15, however a full and comprehensive candidate list has not yet been released. Virginia's primary has been rescheduled to August 23, 2011 instead of its usual date of June 14, 2011[7] after delays and uncertainty in the redistricting process.[8].[9]

Special elections


There are no special election this week.

Last week, Republican candidate Jose Oliva defeated write-in candidate Antonio Moreno in a special election on June 28 to fill the Florida House of Representatives District 110 vacancy.[10] The vacancy was created when former Representative Esteban Bovo, Jr. (R) resigned to take the office of Miami-Dade County Commissioner.[11][12]

Republican Party Republican Candidate:[13]
Independent Write-in Candidate:

Upcoming special elections for the month of July include: