Vermont State Senate

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Vermont State Senate

Seal of Vermont.png
General Information
Type:   Upper house
Term limits:   None
2014 session start:   January 7, 2014
Website:   Official Senate Page
Leadership
Senate President:   Phillip Scott (R)
Majority Leader:   Philip Baruth (D)
Minority leader:   Joe Benning (R)
Structure
Members:  30
  
Length of term:   2 years
Authority:   Legislative Department, Sec. 6, Vermont Constitution
Salary:   $604.79/week + per diem
Elections
Last Election:  November 6, 2012 (30 seats)
Next election:  November 4, 2014 (30 seats)
Redistricting:  Vermont legislature has control
Meeting place:
Virginia Senate Chamber.jpg
The Vermont Senate is the upper house of the Vermont General Assembly, which is Vermont's state legislature.

The Vermont senate includes 30 members. However, there are only 13 state senate districts in the state. Each member represents an average of 20,294 residents, as of the 2000 Census.[1]

Senators in Vermont serve two-year terms, rather than the more standard four-year terms.

Vermont senators have no term limits.

As of October 2014, Vermont is one of 13 Democratic state government trifectas.

See also: Vermont State Legislature, Vermont House of Representatives, Vermont Governor

Sessions

The Vermont State Legislature, which the Senate is a part of, meets for biennial sessions starting on odd numbered years on the first Wednesday after the first Monday in January, pursuant to Section 7 of the Legislative Department of the Vermont Constitution. The opening date for even numbered years is established by the sitting legislature during the year prior.

2014

See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 7 through May 10.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included improving integration of environmental regulation with comprehensive planning, affordable health care, tourism funding, workforce training, a tax policy that does not increase taxes on businesses, and a labor policy to not increase costs to employers.

2013

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 9 through May 14.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included addressing a projected budget shortfall of $50-$70 million, physician assisted death, and marijuana decriminalization.

2012

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Senate was in session from January 3 through May 5.

2011

See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Senate was in session from January 5 through mid May.[2]

2010

See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Senate was in session from January 5 to May 12.[3]

Role in state budget

See also: Vermont state budget

The state operates on an annual budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[4][5]

  1. Budget instructions are sent to state agencies in September of the year preceding the start of the new fiscal year.
  2. Agencies submit their budget requests to the governor in October.
  3. Agency hearings are held from October through December.
  4. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature in January.
  5. The legislature typically a budget in May. A simple majority is required to pass a budget. The fiscal year begins July 1.

In Vermont, the governor cannot exercise veto authority over the budget.[5]

The governor is not legally required to submit, and the legislature is not legally required to pass, a balanced budget.[5]

Cost-benefit analyses

See also: Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative Cost-Benefit Study
Map showing results of the Pew-MacArthur cost-benefit study.

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 which indicated that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. Among the challenges states faced were a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Vermont was one of 29 states with mixed results regarding the frequency and effectiveness in its use of cost-benefit analysis.[6]

Ethics and transparency

Following the Money report

See also: Following the Money 2014 Report

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending.[7] According to the report, Vermont received a grade of A- and a numerical score of 90, indicating that Vermont was "leading" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.[7]

Open States Transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Vermont was given a grade of B in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data is to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A -- Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.[8]

Elections

2014

See also: Vermont State Senate elections, 2014

Elections for the office of Vermont State Senate will take place in 2014. A primary election took place August 26, 2014. The general election will be held on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was June 12, 2014.

2012

See also: Vermont State Senate elections, 2012

Elections for the office of Vermont State Senate were held in Vermont on November 6, 2012. A total of 30 seats were up for election.

The signature filing deadline for the elections was June 14, 2012.

2010

See also: Vermont State Senate elections, 2010

Elections for the office of Vermont State Senate were held in Vermont on November 2, 2010. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was July 19, 2010, and the primary Election Day was on September 14, 2010.

In 2010, the candidates for state senate raised a total of $670,068 in campaign contributions. The top 10 donors were:[9]

2008

See also: Vermont State Senate elections, 2008

Elections for the office of Vermont State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 9, 2008, and a general election on November 4, 2008.

During the 2008 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $422,775. The top 10 contributors were:[10]

2006

See also: Vermont State Senate elections, 2006

Elections for the office of Vermont State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 12, 2006, and a general election on November 7, 2006.

During the 2006 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $744.527. The top 10 contributors were:[11]

2004

See also: Vermont State Senate elections, 2004

Elections for the office of Vermont State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 14, 2004, and a general election on November 2, 2004.

During the 2004 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $836,383. The top 10 contributors were:[12]

2002

See also: Vermont State Senate elections, 2002

Elections for the office of Vermont State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 10, 2002, and a general election on November 5, 2002.

During the 2002 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $771,524. The top 10 contributors were:[13]

2000

See also: Vermont State Senate elections, 2000

Elections for the office of Vermont State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 12, 2000, and a general election on November 7, 2000.

During the 2000 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $924,978. The top 10 contributors were:[14]

Qualifications

The Vermont Constitution states, "No person shall be elected a Representative or a Senator until the person has resided in this State two years, the last year of which shall be in the legislative district for which the person is elected."[15]

Vacancies

See also: How vacancies are filled in state legislatures
How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures
NevadaMassachusettsColoradoNew MexicoWyomingArizonaMontanaCaliforniaOregonWashingtonIdahoTexasOklahomaKansasNebraskaSouth DakotaNorth DakotaMinnesotaIowaMissouriArkansasLouisianaMississippiAlabamaGeorgiaFloridaSouth CarolinaIllinoisWisconsinTennesseeNorth CarolinaIndianaOhioKentuckyPennsylvaniaNew JerseyNew YorkVermontVermontNew HampshireMaineWest VirginiaVirginiaMarylandMarylandConnecticutConnecticutDelawareDelawareRhode IslandRhode IslandMassachusettsNew HampshireMichiganMichiganAlaskaVacancy fulfillment map.png

If there is a vacancy in the senate, the Governor must select a replacement to fill the vacant seat.

The Governor must select a replacement that will serve for the remainder of the unexpired term. There are no deadlines set by statute on when a vacancy has to be filled.[16]

Redistricting

See also: Redistricting in Vermont

The Vermont Legislative Apportionment Board is tasked with drawing redistricting maps, but the Legislature must approve -- and can revise -- any plans. The Board is made up of a chairperson selected by the Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court, and six members, two from each of the major parties (Democratic, Republican, Progressive).

2010 census

Vermont received its census data on February 10, 2011. The state grew by 2.8 percent. The most populous cities had mixed results: Burlington grew by 9.1 percent, Essex grew by 5.2 percent, South Burlington grew by 13.2 percent, Colchester grew by 0.5 percent, and Rutland decreased by 4.6 percent.[17]

The 2011 redistricting process was notable for a push to eliminate nearly all of the state's multi-member districts. Though a preliminary plan that achieved this end was passed by the Board, its final plan from August 11, 2011 only reduced the number of two-member districts from 42 to 29.

The Legislature took up redistricting in January 2012. Despite disagreements over deviation from ideal district size (18.2 percent for the Senate and 24 percent for the House), the Senate passed and the House concurred with a final plan, H. 789. The plan added a new seat in Burlington, and paired incumbents Dennis Devereux (R) and Eldred French (D). Governor Peter Shumlin (D) signed the maps into law on May 1, 2012.

Senators

Salaries

See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the Vermont Legislature are paid $604.79/week during session and $112/day for special sessions or interim committee meetings. Legislators who are non-commuters receive $101/day for lodging and $61/day for meals. Commuters receive $61/day for meals/mileage.[18]

Pension

Vermont does not provide pensions for legislators.[19]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Vermont legislators assume office the first Wednesday after the first Tuesday in January.

Partisan composition

See also: Partisan composition of state senates
Party As of October 2014
     Democratic Party 21
     Republican Party 7
     Vermont Progressive Party 2
Total 30


The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Vermont State Senate from 1992-2013.

Partisan composition of the Vermont State Senate.PNG

Leadership

The Senate is headed by the State's Lieutenant Governor as the Senate President. The Senate President only votes in the case of a tie. More often, the Senate is presided over by the President Pro Tempore who also serves as head of the Majority Party.[20]

Current leadership

Current Leadership, Vermont State Senate
Office Representative Party
President of the Senate Phillip Scott Ends.png Republican
President Pro Tempore of the Senate John Campbell Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Majority Leader Philip Baruth Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Assistant Majority Leader Claire Ayer Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Minority Leader Joe Benning Ends.png Republican
State Senate Assistant Minority Leader William Doyle Ends.png Republican

List of current members

Current members, Vermont State Senate
District Senator Party Assumed office
Addison Claire Ayer Electiondot.png Democratic 2003
Addison Christopher Bray Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
Bennington Robert Hartwell Electiondot.png Democratic 2007
Bennington Richard Sears Electiondot.png Democratic 1993
Caledonia Joe Benning Ends.png Republican 2011
Caledonia Jane Kitchel Electiondot.png Democratic 2005
Chittenden Timothy Ashe Electiondot.png Democratic / Lime2.png Vermont Progressive Party 2009
Chittenden Philip Baruth Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
Chittenden Michael Sirotkin Electiondot.png Democratic 2014
Chittenden Virginia Lyons Electiondot.png Democratic 2001
Chittenden Diane Snelling Ends.png Republican 2002
Chittenden David Zuckerman Lime2.png Vermont Progressive Party 2013
Chittenden-Grand Isle Richard Mazza Electiondot.png Democratic 1985
Essex-Orleans John Rodgers Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
Essex-Orleans Robert Starr Electiondot.png Democratic 2005
Franklin Donald Collins Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
Franklin Norman McAllister Ends.png Republican 2013
Lamoille Richard Westman Ends.png Republican 2011
Orange Mark MacDonald Electiondot.png Democratic 2003
Rutland Eldred French Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
Rutland Peg Flory Ends.png Republican 2010
Rutland Kevin Mullin Ends.png Republican 2003
Washington Ann Cummings Electiondot.png Democratic 1997
Washington William Doyle Ends.png Republican 1969
Washington Anthony Pollina Lime2.png Progressive / Electiondot.png Democratic / Working Families Party Working Families 2011
Windham Peter Galbarith Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
Windham Jeanette White Electiondot.png Democratic 2003
Windsor John Campbell Electiondot.png Democratic 2001
Windsor Richard McCormack Electiondot.png Democratic 2007
Windsor Alice Nitka Electiondot.png Democratic 2007

Senate Committees

The Vermont Senate has 11 standing committees:

History

Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Vermont
Partisan breakdown of the Vermont legislature from 1992-2013

From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Vermont State Senate for 18 years while the Republicans were the majority for four years. The Vermont State Senate is 1 of 16 state senates that was Democratic for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. Vermont was under Democratic trifectas for the final three years of the study.

Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Vermont, the Vermont State Senate and the Vermont House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Vermont state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Vermont state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. During the course of the study, Vermont had Democratic trifectas from 1997-2000 and from 2011-2013. Its lowest ranking, finishing 33rd, occurred in 2008 during a divided government. Its highest ranking, finishing 15th, also occurred during a divided government from 2003-2004.

Chart displaying the partisanship of the Vermont government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

External links

References

  1. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
  2. National Conference of State Legislatures, "2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar," December 19, 2011
  3. National Conference of State Legislatures, "2010 Legislative Sessions Calendar," December 8, 2010
  4. National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  6. Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
  7. 7.0 7.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  8. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  9. Follow the Money, "Vermont Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions," accessed August 2, 2013
  10. Follow the Money, "Vermont 2008 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
  11. Follow the Money, "Vermont 2006 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
  12. Follow the Money, "Vermont 2004 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
  13. Follow the Money, "Vermont 2002 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
  14. Follow the Money, "Vermont 2000 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
  15. usconstitution.net, "Vermont Constitution," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Section 15)
  16. Vermont State Legislature, "Vermont Statutes," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Statute, 2-1-4, Vermont Statutes)
  17. U.S. Census Bureau, "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Vermont's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting," February 10, 2011
  18. NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
  19. USA Today, "State-by-state: Benefits available to state legislators," September 23, 2011
  20. Vermont State Legislature, "Officers of the Vermont General Assembly 2009-2010," accessed August 2, 2014