State Legislative Tracker: Texas adjourns third special session

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August 12, 2013

Edited by Joel Williams
This week’s tracker includes a look into the third adjourned special election in the Texas State Legislature this year.

Weekly highlight

Last week, no state ended its legislative session. Here is a brief look at issues making headlines across the country:

  • Texas: The state legislature adjourned the third special session it has held since May after passing a compromise transportation bill. The legislation, brokered and sponsored primarily by Representative Joe Pickett (D), includes a constitutional amendment that would divert half the funds currently flowing to the Texas's Rainy Day fund. That amendment will go to voters for approval in November 2014. The compromise also includes a bill that sets up the framework for this diversion, if approved by voters. This framework calls for a committee to decide the amount that the Rainy Day fund should have each biennium, diverting the rest to transportation, and gives the full legislature the power to alter the commission's recommendations. Governor Rick Perry (R) hailed the compromise as increasing transportation funding without raising taxes. Gasoline taxes have remained at the same level since 1991, and 47 percent of gasoline tax revenue has been diverted to non-transportation costs. Lawmakers in the Texas State Senate have also blocked attempts to make taxes on automobile sales go to transportation projects. These dollars currently contribute to funding schools in the state. The Texas Department of Transportation asked for an increase of $4 billion in spending each year. The increase in the compromise legislation, if approved by voters, would bring in approximately $1.2 billion annually in revenue for the Department of Transportation.[1][2][3][4][5]
  • Minnesota: Following a series of summer storms that resulted in 18 Minnesota counties being declared eligible for federal funds, the state legislature is likely to return for a special session that may touch on more than disaster relief. Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) is eyeing a one-day session on September 9 that, although originally intended to only match state funds to the federal contribution, may also see the repeal of the state's new sales tax on farm equipment repair. The tax, which was passed very late in the 2013 legislative session and took effect on July 1, is estimated to bring in $28.6 million in revenue over the next two years. Speaking at the agriculture trade show Farmfest last Thursday, Dayton deemed the tax a "very bad mistake," and said it should be addressed in the special session, a sharp turn from two days prior when he implored that only disaster relief be covered. Republicans have expressed interest in further action, as they seek to repeal the application of the state sales tax to goods stored in warehouses. Though Dayton said there was ample time to address the warehouse tax in the next regular session before the tax's effective date of April 1, 2014, he said such a repeal would be acceptable if legislators find a replacement for lost revenue. While the governor can call a special session, legislators must first agree in writing as to what will be covered before convening. The storms, which lasted from June 20 to 26, caused $17.8 million in damages to public infrastructure, and were responsible for the most significant power outage in the state's history.[6][7][8][9][10][11]
  • New York: The New York State Assembly has once again come under scrutiny over allegations that the Assembly withheld documents pertaining to a sexual harassment complaint made against Assemblyman Micah Kellner four years ago. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics issued a broad subpoena for any documents related to sexual harassment allegations earlier this year when it was investigating Assemblyman Vito Lopez, but the Kellner documents were withheld. Lopez later resigned from the Assembly when the scandal came out. The sexual harassment complaint made against Assemblyman Micah Kellner was revealed when Kellner's former chief of staff, Eliyanna Kaiser, provided documentation of the harassment. Four-years ago Kaiser brought the complaint to Bill Collins, former counsel to Sheldon Silver, but Collins never investigated the allegations or submitted the documents to the Assembly's Ethics and Guidance Committee. Since the allegation against Kellner was brought to light last month, Collins has retired as Silver's counsel. This new allegation is bad news for Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has already come under huge scrutiny over the mishandling of the sexual harassment scandal against Lopez. Silver has been criticized for using $103,000 in public money as a settlement to end the harassment allegations against Lopez. Assemblyman Micah Kellner (D), a New York City Council 2013 candidate, has apologized for his behavior and will cooperate fully with the investigation.[12][13][14][15]
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As of today, August 12, 2013, the following figures represent the cumulative partisan breakdown of the 50 state senates and 49 state houses. In the 50 states, Republicans currently control 51.9% of all seats while Democrats hold 46.7%. All told, Republicans control 57 chambers while Democrats are the majority in 41 chambers. One chamber is nonpartisan.


Representation in 50 State Legislatures
Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state legislators 3,450 46.7%
Republican state legislators 3,829 51.9%
Independent (and nonpartisan) state legislators 67 0.91%
Third party (and non-voting) legislators 11 0.15%
Vacancies 28 0.38%

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 1,972 state senators.

As of August 5, 2013, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

  • Democratic Party 21 chambers
  • Republican Party 28 chambers
  • Independent 1 chamber (Nebraska)
See also: Partisan composition of state houses

Cumulative numbers

As of August 4, 2014, 1,905 state senators are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state senators 875 44.4%
Republican state senators 1,030 52.2%
Nonpartisan state senators 49 2.48%
Independent state senators 4 0.2%
Third Party state senators 2 0.1%
Vacancies 12 0.61%

Vacancies

As of August 4, 2014, there are 12 vacancies in 8 states.

State Vacancies
Arkansas 1
Missouri 2
New Hampshire 1
New York 2
South Carolina 1
Texas 2
Virginia 2
Wisconsin 1

Independents

As of August 4, 2014, there are 6 state senators in 5 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Republican.

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

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 August 5, 2013, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

  • Democratic Party 20 chambers
  • Republican Party 29 chambers

Cumulative numbers

As of August 4, 2014, 5,345 state representatives are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state representatives 2,553 47.2%
Republican state representatives 2,792 51.6%
Independent state representatives 13 0.24%
Third party (and nonvoting) representatives 10 0.18%
Vacancies 45 0.83%

Vacancies

As of August 4, 2014, there are 45 state house vacancies in 14 different states.

State Vacancies
Alabama 1
California 1
Connecticut 1
Georgia 1
Illinois 2
Louisiana 1
Maine 1
Massachusetts 5
Missouri 3
Nevada 1
New Hampshire 14
New York 11
Virginia 2
Washington 1

Independents

As of August 4, 2014, there are 23 state representatives in 9 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Republican.

State Independents/Third Party
Alabama 1 (Independent)
Arkansas 1 (Green)
Georgia 1 (Independent)
Louisiana 2 (Independent)
Maine 7 (3 non-voting Native American representatives, 4 Independent)
Michigan 1 (Independent)
Tennessee 1 (Carter County Republican)
Vermont 9 (5 Vermont Progressive Party, 4 Independent)

Regular sessions

Current sessions capture for the week of August 12, 2013
See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2013 session information.

Currently four out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session.

As of April 8, all states states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions.[16]

The following states have ended their regular session:[17]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
There are 7,385 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,424 (46.4%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,818 (51.7%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 41
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 57
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 1
2013 Session Information
Total Special Elections 44
Total Special Sessions 11

The Texas State Legislature adjourned its third special session on August 5, the last of which was called to pass a compromised transportation bill.[18] The West Virginia State Legislature held a one-day special session on April 17 to finish remaining business from the regular session.[19] The Mississippi State Legislature held a one-day special session on April 26 to approve incentives for a foreign tire maker to open a plant in the state.[20] The Arizona State Legislature held a brief special session this week concurrently with the end of their regular session, primarily to pass a budget that included Medicaid expansion.[21][22] Mississippi held a two-day special session to approve Medicaid funding and reauthorization.[23] Utah held a one-day special session to consider technical legislation related to the investigation of Utah Attorney General John Swallow (R).[24]

In recess

As of today, August 12, there are 6 state legislatures currently in recess:[25]

Redistricting Roundup.jpg

State news

Redistricting Facts
Maps submitted for vote: 140 out of 142 (98.6%)** No votes on initial maps in the following: MT (2)
States that have completed Congressional Maps 42/43 (Maps ordered redrawn: TX)
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 45/50 (Maps unfinished: ME, MT; Maps ordered redrawn: AK, KY, TX)
**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)
See also: Status of redistricting maps after the 2010 census

While the great majority of states have completed their redistricting following the 2010 census, the issue still remains for a handful of states. Maine and Montana are not required to have their maps completed until 2014. Alaska, Kentucky and Texas, however, saw their maps rejected for legal reasons and will have to take up the drawing of maps once again.

See also: State legislative elections, 2013

A total of 3 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 5, 2013.

The 3 chambers with elections in 2013 are in 2 states. They are:

Louisiana and Mississippi also typically hold elections in odd years. However, legislators are elected to 4-year terms in those states and those will not be up for election again until 2015.

40 of the country's 1,972 state senate seats are up for re-election in November 2013, and 180 of the country's 5,411 state house seats are up for re-election. Altogether, 220 of the country's 7,383 state legislative seats are up for re-election on November 5, 2013.

Signature filing deadlines

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2013 state legislative elections

The state legislative filing deadlines were as follows:

  • New Jersey:
  • April 1, 2013 (Major party)
  • June 4, 2013 (Independent)

Nomination petitions must contain the signatures of at least 100 voters in the legislative district. Candidates are required to disclose any criminal convictions.[26]

  • Virginia:
  • March 28, 2013 (Major party)
  • June 11, 2013 (Independent)

Nomination petitions must contain the signatures of at least 125 qualified voters in the legislative district. Major party candidates are required to submit a primary filing fee equal to 2% of the annual salary for the office sought in effect in the year in which the candidate files. In 2013, the primary filing fee was $352.80.[27]

Primaries

The state primaries were as follows:

  • New Jersey:
  • June 4, 2013
  • Virginia:
  • June 11, 2013

Results

New Jersey had a quiet election, with all competing incumbents winning their primaries.

There were only three hotly contested races, all in the Senate, but none resulted in the ousting of an incumbent:[28]

Republican PartyDistrict 13: Incumbent Joe Kyrillos, Jr. defeated challenger Leigh-Ann Bellew.
Democratic PartyDistrict 20: Incumbent Raymond Lesniak defeated challenger Donna Obe.
Democratic PartyDistrict 34: Incumbent Nia H. Gill defeated challengers Mark C. Alexander and Vernon Pullins, Jr..

Virginia experienced two upsets in an otherwise quiet day of primaries for the House of Delegates. Voter turnout was expected to fall below 5 percent based on projections at polling locations.[29]

Virginia's legislative primaries yielded a pair of defeats for incumbent legislators. The defeated incumbents were supporters of a recently passed transportation bill that increases sales and gas taxes to improve roadways.[30][31] The successful challengers lodged primary challenges in part to protest the bill's passage, which they called the biggest tax increase in the state's history.[32]

Republican Party Mark J. Berg defeated Beverly Sherwood in District 29.
Republican Party Dave A. LaRock defeated Joe T. May in District 33.

Five incumbents were able to fend off primary challenges in Tuesday's primaries:

Republican Party C. Todd Gilbert defeated Mark W. Prince in District 15.
Republican Party Bill Howell defeated Craig E. Ennis in District 28.
Republican Party Bobby Orrock defeated Dustin R. Curtis in District 54.
Democratic Party Roz Dance defeated Evandra D. Thompson in District 63.
Democratic Party Algie Howell defeated Richard James in District 90.

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See also: State legislative special elections, 2013

There are no special elections scheduled for this week. The next one will take place on August 27.

Recent results

August 6, 2013

CheckedBoxOffset.jpgVirginia State Senate District 14
In early April 2013, Sen. Harry Blevins (R) announced his retirement effective August 5. A special election has been called for August 6. John Cosgrove (R) ran unopposed after his opponent, Kerry B. Holmes (D), withdrew from the race.[33][34][35]

August 5 Special election candidates:
Republican Party John Cosgrove Green check mark transparent.png

UncheckedBox.jpgMichigan House of Representatives District 49
Rep. Jim Ananich (D) was elected to the Michigan State Senate on May 7, 2013. A special election has been called concurrent with the regularly-scheduled November 5 elections, with a primary on August 6. Candidates had until June 4 to file certified nomination papers.[36][37][38][39]

Democratic PartyAugust 6 Democratic primary:
Republican PartyAugust 6 GOP primary:
November 5 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Phil Phelps
Republican Party Don Pfeiffer

UncheckedBox.jpgWashington State Senate District 7
Sen. Bob Morton (R) retired on January 1, 2013. His term in the state senate runs until 2014. Republican precinct committee officers chose John Smith (R) to fill his seat during the 2013 session and a special election for the rest of his term will be held on November 5, with a primary on August 6.[40][41][42]

Republican PartyAugust 6 GOP primary:
November 5 Special election candidates:
Republican Party Brian Dansel
Republican Party John Smith

UncheckedBox.jpgWashington State Senate District 8
Sen. Jerome Delvin (R) resigned on January 1, 2013 to serve as Benton County Commissioner. His term in the state senate runs until 2014. Republican precinct committee officers chose Sharon Brown (R) to fill his seat during the 2013 session and a special election for the rest of his term will be held on November 5, with a primary on August.[43][44][45]

Republican PartyAugust 6 GOP primary:
November 5 Special election candidates:
Republican Party Phillip R. Lemley
Republican Party Sharon Brown

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • August 27: Maine State Senate District 19
  • September 10: Massachusetts House of Representatives 6th Bristol District
  • September 10: Massachusetts House of Representatives 12th Suffolk District
  • September 10: Massachusetts House of Representatives 16th Worcester District

See also

References

  1. San Antonio Express-News, "Third time’s a charm: Texas lawmakers finally pass transportation funding bill," August 6, 2013
  2. The Texas Tribune, "Lawmakers Pass Roads Cash Plan, Adjourn Special Session," August 5, 2013
  3. Bloomberg, "Texas Drivers Stuck in Traffic as State Rejects Road Tax," August 7, 2013
  4. Bloomberg, "Texas Lawmakers Let Voters Decide on Transportation Funds," August 6, 2013
  5. The Associated Press, "Texas Legislature adjourns 3rd special session," August 5, 2013
  6. Northland's NewsCenter, "Special MN Legislative Session Possible," August 8, 2013
  7. Star Tribune, "Special session of Minnesota Legislature for storm relief possible," August 1, 2013
  8. Associated Press, "Dayton Now Open To Broader Minn. Special Session," August 8, 2013
  9. The Journal, "Dayton seeks one-day special session," August 9, 2013
  10. Star Tribune, "Dayton willing to consider repeal of farm equipment tax during special session," August 8, 2013
  11. Forum News Service, "DFL, GOP split on special session tax change," August 8, 2013
  12. "NY Daily News," "Assemblyman Micah Kellner sexual harassment probe may hurt Speaker Silver if ethics commission uncovers dirty secrets," August 8, 2013
  13. "Democrat and Chronicle," "N.Y. ethics board probes more Assembly harassment allegations," August 8, 2013
  14. "The Wall Street Journal," "Reports: Ex-staffer says sex harass probe begun," August 8, 2013
  15. "NY Times," "State Ethics Panel Opens an Inquiry Into a Sexual Harassment Cover-Up," August 7, 2013
  16. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed August 12, 2013
  17. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed August 12, 2013
  18. cbslocal.com, "Texas Legislature Passes Roads Bill, Adjourns 3rd Special Session," August 5, 2013
  19. West Virginia Legislature, "2013 1st Special Session," accessed June 1, 2013
  20. sunherald.com, "Mississippi lawmakers pass incentives for tire maker," April 26, 2013
  21. Arizona Capitol Times, "Lawmakers prepare to adjourn as Medicaid expansion moves toward approval," June 11, 2013
  22. The Associated Press, "Arizona Senate ends special session after passing GOP Gov. Brewer’s budget, Medicaid expansion," June 12, 2013
  23. clarionledger.com, "Bryant calls Medicaid special session for Thursday (updated)," June 24, 2013
  24. heraldextra.com, "Herbert calls special session for Legislature," July 13, 2013
  25. Statenet.com, "Daily Session Summary," accessed August 12, 2013
  26. New Jersey Department of State, "Petition filing instruction sheet," accessed January 14, 2013
  27. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidacy Requirements for House of Delegates," accessed January 16, 2013
  28. NJ.com, "Polls close in 2013 N.J. primary elections as votes are tallied," June 4, 2013
  29. Washington Post, "Voter turnout sparse for down-ticket races in Virginia," June 11, 2013
  30. CBS DC, "Virginia Primary Results Roll In," June 11, 2013
  31. Fredericksburg.com, "Howell’s transportation PAC helping candidates," June 7, 2013
  32. WRIC, "Virginia Primary Round Up," June 11, 2013
  33. washingtonpost.com, "Special election set Aug. 6 for seat being vacated by Chesapeake state senator," April 18, 2013
  34. sbe.virginia.gov, "List of Candidates," accessed June 20, 2013
  35. thestate.com, "Cosgrove wins Va. Senate seat in special election," August 6, 2013
  36. freep.com, "Snyder calls special election for state House seat," May 15, 2013
  37. mlive.com, "Six Democrats, two Republicans face off in 49th District state House primary election," June 4, 2013
  38. mlive.com, "Phil Phelps wins Democratic primary for 49th District state House seat," August 6, 2013
  39. mlive.com, "Don Pfeiffer wins Republican primary for 49th District state House seat," August 6, 2013
  40. spokesman.com, "Colville-area farmer named to succeed Morton," January 4, 2013
  41. wei.sos.wa.gov, "State candidates in lot order," accessed August 5, 2013
  42. spokesman.com, "Incumbents survive their primary challenges," August 7, 2013
  43. kvewtv.com, "Kennewick Mayor Pro-Tem Sharon Brown to replace Sen. Delvin," January 28, 2013
  44. wei.sos.wa.gov, "State candidates in lot order," accessed August 5, 2013
  45. tri-cityherald.com, "Brown has huge lead in State Senate race," August 6, 2013