State Legislative Tracker: States finish up 2011 work, go on holiday break

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December 19, 2011

Edited by Greg Janetka

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Note: The Tracker is going on vaction over the holidays and will return on January 9. Happy holidays and a very merry 2012 to all our readers!

This week's tracker features a spotlight on Texas, where redistricting troubles have forced the state to move the candidate filing deadline and primary election date.


So far this year, 49 out of 50 state legislatures have officially adjourned their regular session. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives will adjourn for the year on Tuesday.[1]

 Current Sessions Capture vs. Projected in 2012 

Regular sessions

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

The following state remains in regular legislative sessions:

Click here to see a chart of each state's 2011 session information and here for 2012 session information.

Although most states have concluded 2011 business, a number of states have already begun 2012 action. Drafting for 2012 has begun in three states: Kentucky, Montana and North Dakota, while prefiling of legislation is going on in 15 states: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.[2]

When the tracker resumes on January 9, 14 states will have already convened their sessions. Those dates are as follows:

Special sessions

Special sessions have been 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.

  • Washington concluded a special session on December 14. The session, which began November 28 in order to cut $2 billion from the budget, resulted in a $480 million bill that is being referred to as a "partial down payment" on the problem. The bill, which was approved by a vote of 86-8, includes less than $200 million in actual spending cuts.[3]

This year there have been 45 special sessions in 28 states. No states have future special sessions scheduled.

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Friday, May 22, 2015
There are 7,384 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,332 (45.1%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,941 (53.4%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 35
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 60
2011 Session Information
Special Elections 92
Total Special Sessions 45

In recess

As of today, December 19, 24 states' sessions are currently in mid-term recess:

  • Alaska - Mid-term recess April 18 through January 16, 2012[4]
  • California - Mid-term recess September 9 through January 4, 2012.[5]
  • Delaware - July 1, 2011 through January 10, 2012[4]
  • Georgia - Mid-term recess April 15 through January 8, 2012[4]
  • Hawaii - Mid-term recess May 6 through January 7, 2012[4]

  • Illinois - Mid-term recess through January 10, 2012[4]
  • Iowa - Mid-term recess June 30 through January 8, 2012[4]
  • Kansas - Mid-term recess June 1 through January 8, 2012[4]
  • Maine - Mid-term recess June 30 through January 3, 2012[4]
  • Massachusetts - Mid-term recess November 17 through January 3, 2012[4]
  • Michigan - Recess December 15 through January 11, 2012[4]
  • Minnesota - Mid-term recess May 24 through January 23, 2012[4]


See also: State legislative elections, 2012 and State legislative elections results, 2012
2012 badge.jpg

A total of 86 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 6, 2012.

1,267 (64.3%) of the country's 1,971 state senate seats are up for re-election in November 2012, and 4,712 (87.05%) of the country's 5,413 state house seats are up for re-election. Altogether, 5,984 (81.0%) of the country's 7,384 state legislative seats will be up for re-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 146 fewer than the 6,125 that were contested in 2010.

Filing deadlines

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 state government elections

The next candidate filing deadline is today at 6 p.m. in Texas. However, the filing period will open back up sometime after a federal court rules on new redistricting maps. The reopening will allow candidates in contested districts to get on the correct ballot for disputed districts.[6] The original filing date was December 12.

There are no other states with deadlines in 2011.

States with early 2012 deadlines:

2012 Primaries

See also: 2012 election dates

The first primary elections of 2012 are scheduled to take place in March. Those dates are as follows:

Note: Texas was originally scheduled to hold their primary on March 6. However, with newly drawn state legislative maps being fought in the courts, Republicans and Democrats agreed last week to move the primary to April 3.[7]

New York

U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe said on Monday that, due to the failure of the legislature, he will choose a date for New York’s primary in 2012. The ruling will come in January, allowing all parties one week to submit additional arguments and the following week for responses to the submissions. New York's primaries are currently set for September 11, 2012, with a signature filing deadline of July 12.

Numerous proposals to move the primary were floated by legislators this year, but the two sides refused to compromise - Republicans are pushing for a primary date in August, while Democrats want a primary in late June. The change is necessary in order to comply with the federal MOVE Act.

Elections spotlight

The US Supreme Court threw Texas redistricting and elections into limbo on December 9 when it temporarily blocked the recently implemented interim maps drawn by a San Antonio federal court. The nation's high court is set to hear arguments on the constitutionality of the maps on January 9, 2012 - less than one month away. The move has thrown the 2012 elections into a state of confusion. Without legal districts for candidates to run in, election dates and filing deadlines were in question. On December 14, the San Antonio court moved the signature filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in the 2012 election from December 15 to today. This is the second time the court has had to change the filing deadline because of redistricting legal issues - the original was December 12.

The court held hearings December 13 to consider proposed plans for new primary election dates. Two camps emerged, with those calling for two separate primaries on one side and those requesting a single primary at a later date on the other. Democrats and minority groups were united in their support for a single primary. Republicans were split over the matter, with one contingent arguing for a single primary and another arguing for two elections. The San Antonio court announced last Friday that an agreement had been reached to go with a single primary election, which will be held on April 3, 2012. The new primary runoff date is set for June 5, 2012. The new deadline and primary dates will affect State Senate and State House elections, as well as the U.S. Senate and U.S. House races.

Special elections

See also: State legislative special elections, 2011 and State legislative special elections, 2012

The following special elections are scheduled.

Kentucky House of Representatives District 82

In the last special election scheduled this year, Kentucky voters go to the polls tomorrow to choose a new representative for House District 82. Dewayne Bunch (R) resigned in October after being seriously injured while attempting to break up a school fight. Local party leaders selected candidates for the race.[8][9] Area Republicans have nominated Regina Bunch, the wife of former officeholder Dewayne Bunch. Democrats said they have no plans to appoint a challenger in light of the circumstances.[10]

Democratic Party Democratic Candidate:
  • No Democrat has been nominated
Republican Party Republican Candidates:

Georgia House of Representatives District 68, Runoff

The first special election of 2012 is actually a runoff for Georgia House District 68. Tim Bearden (R) resigned to accept an appointment as Director of the Georgia Law Enforcement Training Center. The special election was held on December 6. Party affiliation was listed, and all candidates appeared on the same ballot. Since no candidate received a majority of the vote, a runoff election will be held on January 3, 2012.[11]

Democratic Party Democratic Candidates:
  • No Democratic candidates have filed.
Republican Party Republican Candidates:[12]
Libertarian Party Libertarian Candidates:
  • James Camp 162

General election candidates:

Republican Party Dustin Hightower
Republican Party Alan Martinez

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • January 10, 2012: Massachusetts Senate 2nd Suffolk and Middlesex
  • February 14, 2012: Oklahoma House District 1
  • February 28, 2012: Michigan House of Representatives District 29
  • February 28, 2012: Michigan House of Representatives District 51
  • April 3: Oklahoma House District 71
  • April 3: Oklahoma Senate District 46


See also: State legislative recalls

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.

On the heels of this success, Democrats in Wisconsin filed recall petitions on November 15 against four Republican state senators - Pam Galloway, Scott Fitzgerald, Terry Moulton and Van Wanggaard.[13] Supporters of the recall have 60 days to collect the necessary signatures in order to force recall elections in 2012. These signatures will be due on January 17.

On December 15, Governor Scott Walker's campaign and the state Republican Party director filed suit against the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board in Waukesha County Circuit Court. The lawsuit asks that a judge require GAB to search for and strike duplicate signatures, fake names and illegible addresses on recall petitions. Currently, GAB reviews signatures to ensure there are enough to trigger a recall and verify they include a Wisconsin address and are dated during the recall period. It is up to challengers to point out potential issues with signatures.[14] Meanwhile, embattled Sen. Fitzgerald called for the GAB, an organization he voted to create 4 years ago, to be dismantled and replaced.[15]

Yesterday, the campaign to recall Sen. Wanggaard announced they have already collected more than the necessary number of signatures to force a recall.[16] The three other campaigns said they are also on pace.[17]


  1. Platts News, "Pennsylvania shale drilling bill stalls in legislature," December 15, 2011
  2. StateNet, "Daily Session Summary," December 19, 2011
  3. The Olympian, "Approval of $480M budget gap bill paves way for special session to end," December 13, 2011
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 StateScape, Session schedules, accessed December 19, 2011
  5. The Sacramento Bee, California Democrats, backed by business, roll out last-minute proposal on regulations, Sept. 2, 2011 (dead link)
  6. Jacksonville Daily Progress," Redistricting skirmish forces new election dates," December 17, 2011
  7. CBS DFW, "Tentative Deal Reached on Texas Primary Date," December 16, 2011
  8. WBIR 10, "Ky Rep. Dewayne Bunch steps down from office," October 27, 2011
  9. WKYT 27, "Nominees for Representative Bunch's position," November 14, 2011
  10., "Wife of injured former lawmaker named GOP nominee in special election," November 15, 2011
  11. Georgia Secretary of State, "Secretary of State Kemp Sets Qualifying Dates for the Special Elections in State Senate District 68," November 1, 2011
  12. Georgia Secretary of State, "Unofficial Results--District 68," accessed December 7, 2011
  13. FOX 6 Now, "Recall paperwork filed Tuesday for four senators, including Van Wanggaard," November 15, 2011
  14. Appleton Post Crescent, "Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recall effort hits 90 percent, group says," December 16, 2011
  15. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Fitzgerald's vision: A state without the GAB," December 16, 2011
  16. Dane 101, "Total Recall: Enough signatures for Wanggaard recall, other Senate recalls close or on track," December 19, 2011
  17. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Recall effort against 4 GOP state senators on pace, groups say," December 18, 2011