State Legislative Tracker: New York senators strike an unusual power-sharing agreement
The New York State Senate has long been one of the most contentious state legislative chambers in the country - a tradition the latest class of elected lawmakers seem determined to continue.
Heading into this year's November 6 election, Republicans held the chamber by the small margin of 33-29. All seats were up for election this year, including the newly added 63rd seat that was created during redistricting. When the smoke cleared, Democrats had won a slim majority of seats, and yet, due to what some are calling a "coup," they will not be in charge during the upcoming session. Instead that honor will be going to an unusual coalition of Republicans and Independent Democrats.
Election results initially showed Democrats winning 32 seats, with one race outstanding. Then, Senator-elect Simcha Felder (D) announced he would caucus with Republicans, stating, "when the Senate meets in January 2013, I will caucus with my colleagues in the Republican conference. I have enormous respect for the Senators from both parties, but I must choose to caucus with those Senators who will best serve the communities I represent." Soon after, Sen. Jeff Klein (D), leader of the four-member Independent Democratic Conference, announced the IDC planned to form a coalition with Republicans, but would not be joining their caucus as Felder had. That came to pass on December 4 when Klein and Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos announced a power-sharing deal. Unsurprisingly, many were outraged. Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy called the move “ a coup against all New Yorkers who voted for Democratic control of the Senate and a progressive state government.”
Under the agreement, the IDC will be formally recognized as a third Senate conference, with Skelos and Klein administering joint authority over the daily agenda, state budget, appointments to state and local boards and leadership and committee assignments for their conferences.
Criticism has not been limited to Democrats - Michael Long, the head of the state Conservative Party, attacked the arrangement, saying, “There’s no point having the Republicans in leadership if fact left-leaning legislation that is going to destroy the state of New York isn’t going to be stopped anymore.” Meanwhile, some Democrats have called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to intervene, a move Cuomo resoundingly rejected, saying, “It is not my place to get involved in internal legislative affairs.”
This week 7 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session.
The following states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions:
- Click here to see a chart of each state's 2012 session information.
Work on 2013 legislation is underway in a number of states: drafting has begun in Montana and Nevada, while prefiling is going on in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
| Snapshot of State Legislatures: |
Monday, December 10, 2012
|There are 7,383 Total State Legislators|
|Total Democratic state legislators||3,296 (44.6%)|
|Total Republican state legislators||3,944 (53.4%)|
|There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers|
|Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers||36|
|Total Republican Party-controlled chambers||59|
|Total tied or nonpartisan chambers||4|
|2012 Session Information|
|Total Special Elections||40|
|Total Special Sessions||21|
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.
During 2012, there have been 21 special sessions in 17 states. There are no special sessions scheduled to take place this week.
As of today, December 10, 2 state's sessions are currently in recess:
So far in 2012 there have been 40 special elections in 16 states.
Blaine Galliher (R) resigned his seat effective August 1, 2012 in order to serve as Gov. Robert Bentley's (R) Legislative Director. In the Republican primary on October 23 Mack Butler defeated Rob McHugh. Butler will face Beth McGlaughn in the general election on December 11.
General election candidates:
Elwyn Thomas (R) resigned his seat effective August 31, 2012 in order to become executive director of the Alabama Manufactured Housing Commission. A Republican primary took place on October 23. As no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters, David Standridge and Chris Latta, will face off in a primary runoff on December 11, 2012.
- No candidates filed
Primary runoff candidates:
Following a long battle with cancer, Sen. Pat Ward (R) died on October 15, 2012. Ward was seeking re-election in the November 6 general election. Her name remained on the ballot and counts were tabulated but not canvassed. Republican Party officials held a special nominating convention to name a replacement candidate for Ward, who will face Desmund Adams (D) in the December 11 special election. Republicans chose West Des Moines City Councilman Charles Schneider.
General election candidates:
Upcoming special elections include:
- December 11: Alabama House of Representatives Districts 30, 34
- December 11: Iowa State Senate District 22
- December 18: Kentucky State Senate District 16
- December 18: Virginia House of Delegates District 89
- January 8, 2013: California State Senate District 4
- January 8, 2013: Georgia State Senate Districts 11, 21 and 30
- January 8, 2013: Georgia House of Representatives District 21
- January 8, 2013: Mississippi House of Representatives District 59
- January 15, 2013: Mississippi State Senate District 16
- January 22, 2013: Iowa House of Representatives District 52
- March 12, 2013: South Carolina House of Representatives District 17
- April 6, 2013: Louisiana House of Representatives District 65
- State legislative elections, 2012
- State legislative election results, 2012
- 2012 state legislative calendar
- Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 state government elections
- State legislative special elections, 2012
- State legislative recalls
- CBS New York, "GOP, Independent Democrats Unite for State Senate Majority," December 4, 2012
- New York Daily News, "Simcha Felder To Caucus With NY Senate GOP; Dean Skelos Pretty Happy With That," November 13, 2012
- Huffington Post, "In New York State Senate, Independent Democrats Likely To Join Republicans In Coalition," November 28, 2012
- Huffington Post, "New York State Senate Slips To Republicans Via Coalition With Independent Democrats," December 4, 2012
- New York Daily News, "Conservative Party leader calls on Senate Republicans to reject bipartisan coalition or face widespread primaries in two years," December 8, 2012
- New York Daily News, "Rev. Al Sharpton, Democratic leaders blast Senate bipartisan leadership accord," December 8, 2012
- Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed December 10, 2012
- StateNet, "Daily Session Summary," accessed December 10, 2012
- StateScape, Session schedules, accessed December 10, 2012
- Governor of Alabama, "Governor Bentley Appoints Blaine Galliher as Legislative Director," July 26, 2012
- The Republic, "Candidates qualify for special elections to fill 2 vacant seats in Alabama House," September 11, 2012
- Gadsden Times, "Butler wins District 30 primary," October 23, 2012
- WLTZ, "Governor Bentley Calls Special Election for House District 34," August 21, 2012
- AL.com, "Blount County's District 34 House race headed to a runoff," October 23, 2012
- Globe Gazette, "Sen. Ward dies; special election set for Dec. 11," October 15, 2012
- Caffeinated Thoughts, "Iowa GOP Nominates Charles Schneider for Iowa Senate District 22 Race," November 8, 2012