State Legislative Tracker: Illinois to begin special session this week

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June 20, 2011

By Jackie Arthur

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In this week's State Legislative Tracker there are 13 states still in regular session.


So far this year, 36 out of 50 state legislative sessions have officially adjourned. This week, two 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, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin continue their special sessions. Illinois is set to convene their special session this week, beginning June 22.

Special sessions that ended last week were:

  • Arizona- June 10-13. Arizona began its special session on Friday, June 10, with hopes of extending unemployment benefits for an extra 20 weeks. Governor Brewer also proposed tightening job search requirements for recipients of extended benefits. The session lasted only two days, and was adjourned sine die on June 13, after the legislature declined to consider the benefit extensions and business tax cuts.[2]

A total of eight special sessions have adjourned this year in Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Utah and Washington.

Regular sessions

Current sessions capture as of June 20, 2011

The following 13 states remain in regular legislative sessions:

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

Sessions spotlight

This week, New York and Illinois are in our spotlight-- New York teeters on the verge of an extended session, and Illinois taxpayers prepare to shoulder a pricey special session-- followed by an update on Iowa and North Carolina which were featured in last weeks spotlight.

Cuomo's legislation would grant same-sex couples equal rights to marry, as well as "hundreds of rights, benefits and protections that are currently limited to married couples of the opposite sex."[4] The bill, if passed, would alter the current Domestic Relations Law to say that "no application for a marriage license shall be denied on the ground that the parties are of the same or a different sex."[4]

The bill has the support of 31 senators, including two Republicans -- Roy McDonald and James Alesi. However, the bill still needs the support of one more senator to seal the deal. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R) has indicated that, despite GOP concerns over the "unintended consequences" of re-defining marriage, discussions will still continue. Cuomo has also indicated that he will extend the legislative session if need be, stating "There is a full agenda for both the Assembly and Senate to accomplish and the legislative session will not end, either through regular or special session, until the people's business is done."[4]

If the Senate is able to pass the bill, New York would then join five other states, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire in granting same-sex marriage licenses.[4]

  • Illinois: Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) has chosen June 22 as the start of Illinois' first special session, which was called to deal with the state's construction budget. Quinn and Illinois Democrats hope to add $430 million in extra spending for education and social services linked to the construction budget, which Republicans have objected to. Adam Andrzejewski, conservative advocate and former candidate for governor, thinks that Quinn should be calling lawmakers back to cut government spending, not spend more. "Illinois’ special sessions are costly to taxpayers on many levels. The sessions cost $50,000 per day and are used to fund insiders, road contractors, and politically connected vendors. In a bankrupt state, the gravy train rolls on," Andrzejewski said.[5] The last time lawmakers were in session, 2007 and 2008, the price tag was $40,000. In those two years, former governor Rod Blagojevich (D) ordered a record total of 26 special sessions. Fewer lawmakers attended those sessions, keeping costs at bay.[5]

Projected costs for the session are expected to average around $50,000 per day. If the session takes place, each legislator would receive $111 in per diem per day, plus 39 cents per mile in transportation reimbursement. There are 177 total members in the House and the Senate. For House members, the total per day would be $32,414, the Senate, $46,914.[5]

Iowa: A now eight week-long budget stalemate continues on, with only eight legislative days left to avoid a complete government shutdown. The Iowa legislative session began on January 10, 2011 and has continued since, now 52 days past the scheduled time of 110 calendar days. The Iowa legislature is not in special session, rather an extended session in which legislators do not receive per diem. Iowa legislative rules allow lawmakers to receive per diem for a maximum of 100 days in even numbered years, and 110 days in odd numbered years. The 110th calendar day of the 2011 session was April 30. The rules may be amended at any time to extend the legislative session.

Democratic senator Jack Hatch said that the legislature should know "by the end of the week" whether or not they are on track for adjournment or for shutdown.[6]

Last week, Democrats agreed to work within the $5.999 billion spending limit set for 2012 by Governor Terry Branstad (R) and the Republicans. However, talks have dissipated, with both sides back to pointing fingers. Republicans claim Democrats wanted to add back more spending, driving a $100 million wedge between the two parties. On the flip side, Democrats claim that Republicans have "upped their ante" by $35 million.[6]

Governor Branstad has said he hopes to return from his statewide tour this week, to personally involve himself in the goings on in the statehouse.[6]

Iowa's current budgeting year ends June 30th. Legislators need to approve a spending plan for the fiscal year which begins July 1, 2011.[6]

North Carolina: After a tempestuous session, the North Carolina regular session has finally come to a close. The session ended on Saturday, June 18, after many agreements were reached on issues such as abortion restrictions, voter I.D. requirements and a $500,000 medical malpractice cap. The legislature also overrode Governor Perdue's veto on the GOP's $19.7 billion state budget. Perdue had until July 18 to sign or veto legislation that reaches her desk. The legislature will re-convene in a special session beginning July 13 for redistricting, during which time Perdue can also consider vetoes.[7]


A total of 578 seats will be up for general election in state legislatures in 2011. New Jersey on June 7 held this year's first primary for 2011 state legislative elections.

New Jersey has 40 legislative districts, which left 80 possible primaries in each chamber -- 40 Democratic and 40 Republican. In the Senate, a primary was "contested" when there were at least two candidates competing for their respective party’s nomination. In the General Assembly, a contested primary featured at least 3 candidates since the top-2 vote-getters advanced to the general election.

There were only 9 contested primaries out of the 80 primaries in the Senate. In the General Assembly, only 15 of the 80 primaries were contested. All told, only 24 out of the 160 primaries on June 7 (15%) required voters to choose between multiple candidates. In the remaining 136 primaries (85%), the candidate (or candidates in the New Jersey General Assembly) automatically advanced to the general election.

See also: Ballotpedia news report on New Jersey primary competitiveness
Comparing Contested Primaries of past three NJ Elections
Democrats Republicans Total
2007 2009 2011 2007 2009 2011 2007 2009 2011
Open contested 4 0 2 4 6 10 8 6 12
Open uncontested 36 15 29 46 17 40 82 32 69
Incumbent contested 7 9 8 3 8 4 10 17 12
Incumbent uncontested 33 16 38 20 7 25 53 23 63
Total contested 11 9 10 7 14 14 18 23 24
Total uncontested 69 31 67 66 24 65 135 55 132
No Candidates 0 0 3 7 2 1 7 2 4

The other three states holding elections this year are Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia.

The next state with a signature filing deadline is Louisiana on September 8. Virginia's signature filing deadline was June 15, however no candidate list has been released. Virginia's primary has been rescheduled to August 23, 2011 instead of its usual date of June 14, 2011[8] after delays and uncertainty in the redistricting process.[9].[10]

Special elections


There is one special election in Georgia House District 113 this week. Tomorrow, four candidates will compete to fill a vacancy in Georgia House District 113. The vacancy was created when Hank Huckaby (R) resigned to become the new University of Georgia Chancellor.

The special election for State House District 113 will occur in Oconee County and portions of Clarke, Morgan and Oglethorpe counties. The election is a nonpartisan special election with no party primary. A runoff election, if needed, will be held on Tuesday, July 19, 2011.[11]

The following candidates qualified by the May 18 deadline and will be placed on the ballot:

Democratic Party Democratic Candidate:
Republican Party Republican Candidates:

As of today, there is only one other special election scheduled for this month. On June 28, Republican Jose Oliva will face write-in candidate Antonio Moreno in a special election to fill a vacancy in Florida House of Representatives District 110.[12] The vacancy was created when former Representative Esteban Bovo, Jr. (R) resigned to take the office of Miami-Dade County Commissioner.