Upper house

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The term upper house refers to one of two state legislative chambers in a bicameral legislature.

An upper house, or state senate, is the upper deliberative body, or chamber, in states with a bicameral legislature. A state senate normally has fewer members — usually one-half to one-third as many members — as a state assembly or state house of representatives.

Current composition and information about the 50 state upper houses

Chamber articleMembersPartisan BreakdownTerm LengthTerm LimitSession start dateSalary
Alabama State Senate35Independent (1)4 yearsNoneJanuary 14, 2014 $10/day + $4,308/month
Alaska State Senate204 yearsNoneJanuary 21, 2014 $50,400./year+ per diem
Arizona State Senate30Vacant (1)2 years4 terms (8 years) January 13, 2014 $24,000/year + per diem
Arkansas State Senate35Vacant (1)4 years2 terms (8 years)February 10, 2014 $15,362/year + $136/day
California State Senate404 years2 terms (8 years) if elected before 2012; 12 years if elected in or after 2012January 6, 2014 $95,291/year + per diem
Colorado State Senate354 years8 yearsJanuary 8, 2014 $30,000/year + per diem
Connecticut State Senate362 yearsNoneFebruary 5, 2014 $28,000/year
Delaware State Senate214 yearsNoneJanuary 14, 2014 $41,680/year + $7,334 expenses/year
Florida State Senate404 years 2 terms (8 years)March 4, 2014 $29,697/year + per diem
Georgia State Senate562 yearsNoneJanuary 13, 2014 $17,342/year + per diem
Hawaii State Senate252-4-4 year systemNoneJanuary 15, 2014 $48,708/year
Idaho State Senate352 yearsNoneJanuary 6, 2014 $16,116./year + per diem
Illinois State Senate59Vacant (1)4 yearsNoneJanuary 29, 2014 $67,836/year + per diem
Indiana State Senate504 yearsNoneJanuary 6, 2014 $22,616/year + per diem
Iowa State Senate504 yearsNoneJanuary 13, 2014 $25,000/year + per diem
Kansas State Senate404 yearsNoneJanuary 13, 2014 $88.66/day + $6,775/year expenses
Kentucky State Senate38Independent (1)4 yearsNoneJanuary 7, 2014 $186.73/day + per diem
Louisiana State Senate394 years3 terms (12 years) March 10, 2014 $15,362/year
Maine State Senate35Independent (1)2 years4 terms (8 years)January 8, 2014 $13,526/year Sess. 1, $9,661/year Sess. 2 + per diem
Maryland State Senate474 yearsNoneJanuary 8, 2014 $43,500/year + per diem
Massachusetts State Senate402 yearsNoneJanuary 14, 2014 $61,133/year + per diem
Michigan State Senate384 years2 terms (8 years)January 8, 2014 $71,685/year + expenses
Minnesota State Senate674 yearsNoneFebruary 25, 2014 $31,140.90 + per diem
Mississippi State Senate524 yearsNoneJanuary 7, 2014 $10,000./year + per diem
Missouri State Senate34Vacant (2)4 years2 terms (8 years) January 8, 2014 $35,915/year + per diem
Montana State Senate504 years2 terms (8 years) Will not hold a regular session. $82.64/day + per diem
Nebraska State Senate (Unicameral)494 years2 terms (8 years)January 8, 2014 $12,000/year + per diem
Nevada State Senate214 years3 terms (12 years) Will not hold a regular session. $146.29/day + per diem
New Hampshire State Senate24Vacancy (1)2 yearsNoneJanuary 8, 2014 $100/year
New Jersey State Senate404 yearsNoneJanuary 14, 2014 $49,000/year
New Mexico State Senate424 yearsNoneJanuary 21, 2014 $0/year + per diem
New York State Senate63Vacancy (2)2 yearsNoneJanuary 8, 2014 $79,500/year + per diem
North Carolina State Senate502 yearsNoneMay 14, 2014 $13,951/year + per diem + expenses
North Dakota State Senate474 yearsNoneWill not hold a regular session. $152/day + expenses
Ohio State Senate334 years2 terms (8 years)January 7, 2014 $60,584/year
Oklahoma State Senate484 years12 year cumulative total, in either or both chambersFebruary 3, 2014 $38,400/year + per diem
Oregon State Senate304 yearsNoneFebruary 3, 2014 $21,936/year + per diem
Pennsylvania State Senate504 yearsNoneJanuary 7, 2014 $82,026/year + per diem
Rhode Island State Senate38Independent (1)2 yearsNoneJanuary 7, 2014 $14,185.95/year
South Carolina State Senate46Vacant (1)4 yearsNoneJanuary 14, 2014 $10,400/year + per diem
South Dakota State Senate352 years4 terms (8 years) January 14, 2014 $12,000/2 years + per diem
Tennessee State Senate334 yearsNoneJanuary 14, 2014 $19,009/year + per diem
Texas State Senate31Vacant (2)4 yearsNoneNo regular session $7,200/year + per diem
Utah State Senate294 yearsNoneJanuary 27, 2014 $117/day + per diem
Vermont State Senate302 yearsNoneJanuary 7, 2014 $604.79/week + per diem
Virginia State Senate40Vacant (2)4 yearsNoneJanuary 8, 2014 $18,000/year + per diem
Washington State Senate494 yearsNoneJanuary 13, 2014 $42,106/year + per diem
West Virginia State Senate344 yearsNoneJanuary 8, 2014 $20,000/year + per diem
Wisconsin State Senate33Vacant (1)4 yearsNoneJanuary 14, 2014 $49,943/year + per diem
Wyoming State Senate304 yearsNoneFebruary 10, 2014 $150/day + per diem


Partisan Control, 1992-2013


Praise or blame is extended to political parties for the economic, educational, health and other quality of life outcomes that result from the policies those parties enact into law. To better understand which political party enjoys power in each of the states, Ballotpedia has analyzed state government control from 1992-2013 using the concept of a "partisan trifecta." A partisan trifecta is defined as when a state's governorship and legislative chambers are controlled by the same political party.

The two major political parties claim that their policies will lead to better outcomes. What does the data show?

At Ballotpedia, we explored these issues in a three-part study, Who Runs the States.

Part 1: Partisanship

See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Partisanship Results, Partisan Control of State Senates

We identified the party holding each state's upper legislative chamber for the majority of time in each year from 1992 through 2013. Across the 49 states (excluding Nebraska) with partisan legislatures, there were 541 years (50.2%) of Democratic control and 517 years (48%) of Republican control.

The trifecta analysis over this period shows a notable trend toward one-party control of state governments. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 states had trifectas while 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas hold sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years we studied. The number of states with trifectas doubled between 1992 and 2013.

The trifecta analysis also allowed us to identify seven states that have experienced dramatic changes in partisan state government control from the first 11 years of the study to the last 11 years of the study. Studying the partisan composition of state governments as we do also allows a clean way to assess whether a state is "moving red" or "moving blue."


Legend for State government trifecta visualization -- Figures 10 and 11

Legend for State government visualization with Presidential Voting -- Figures 19 and 20