West Virginia State Senate
|West Virginia State Senate|
|2014 session start:||January 8, 2014|
|Website:||Official Senate Page|
|Senate President:||Jeffrey Kessler (D)|
|Majority Leader:||John Unger (D)|
|Minority leader:||Mike Hall (R)|
Democratic Party (23)
Republican Party (11)
|Length of term:||4 years|
|Authority:||Art VI, Section 3, West Virginia Constitution|
|Salary:||$20,000/year + per diem|
|Last Election:||November 4, 2014 (17 seats)|
|Next election:||November 8, 2016 (17 seats)|
|Redistricting:||West Virginia legislature special session controls|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 Elections
- 4 Redistricting
- 5 Senators
- 6 Senate Committees
- 7 History
- 8 External links
- 9 References
The senate has 34 senators. They are elected from 17 senate districts; each of these districts elect two senators who serve staggered four-year terms, which means that each of the 17 state senate districts have one state senate election every even-numbered year. Each member represents an average of 54,500 residents, as of the 2010 Census. After the 2000 Census, each member represented 53,187 residents.
West Virginia's state senators are not subject to term limits.
As of November 2014, West Virginia is one of 14 Democratic state government trifectas.
Article VI of the West Virginia Constitution establishes when the West Virginia State Legislature, of which the Senate is a part, is to be in session. Section 18 of Article VI states that the Legislature is to convene its regular session on the second Wednesday of January of each year. Once every four years, on the year in which the Governor of West Virginia is inaugurated, the Legislature holds a thirty day recess after the first day of the session. This recess is designed to give the Governor time to prepare a budget.
Section 22 of Article VI limits regular sessions of the Legislature to sixty days. Regular sessions can be extended by a two-thirds vote of the members of both legislative houses.
Section 19 of Article VI gives the Governor of West Virginia the power to convene the Legislature into special session. Section 19 also requires the Governor to convene a special session if it is requested by three-fifths of the members of each legislative house.
- See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 8 through March 10.
Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included legislation that benefits families, expanding education, state energy, and developing the economy.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 9 through April 14.
Major issues include the availability of soft drinks in schools, repeal of the law allowing the sterilization of "mental defectives," and treatment of sexually-transmitted diseases.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
In 2012, the Senate was in session from January 11 through March 10.
- See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions
In 2011, the Senate was in regular session from January 12 through March 18. An August 1 special session was called by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to pass legislation related to redistricting and other topics. A second special session began on August 15, to replace the House of Delegates' redistricting plan. The House's plan, which passed during the first special session on August 1, must be vetoed because of errors. The plan contains duplicate voter precinct populations for districts in both Kanawha and Morgan counties.
- See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions
Role in state budget
- See also: West Virginia state budget
- Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in July.
- State agencies submit budget requests in September.
- Agency hearings are held in October and November.
- The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the West Virginia State Legislature on or before the second Wednesday in January.
- The legislature adopts a budget in March or April. A simple majority is required to pass a budget.
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. West Virginia was one of 11 states that made rare use of cost-benefit analyses in policy and budget processes.
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. According to the report, West Virginia received a grade of C and a numerical score of 72, indicating that West Virginia was "middling" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.
Open States Transparency
The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. West Virginia 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.
Elections for the office of West Virginia State Senate took place in 2014. A primary election took place on May 13, 2014. The general election was held on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was January 25, 2014.
The following table details the 9 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.
|2012 Margin of Victory, West Virginia State Senate|
|District||Winner||Margin of Victory||Total Votes||Top Opponent|
|District 8||Chris Walters||5.8%||36,162||Joshua Martin|
|District 9||Daniel Hall||7.2%||33,599||Epp Cline|
|District 16||Herb Snyder||7.8%||38,527||James Ruland|
|District 4||Mitch Carmichael||11.8%||30,384||Mike Bright|
|District 1||Jack Yost||12.5%||20,906||Pat McGeehan|
|District 6||Bill Cole||14%||21,009||Mark Wills|
|District 13||Roman Prezioso||34.3%||17,118||Casey Mayer|
|District 11||Clark Barnes||35.9%||29,499||Margaret Kerr Beckwitth|
|District 15||Craig Blair||61.5%||35,613||Daniel Litten|
Elections for the office of West Virginia's State Senate were held in West Virginia on November 2, 2010. Out of 34 Senate seats, 17 were on the ballot in 2010. Senators in West Virginia State Senate serve staggered four year terms, which means that each of the 17 state senate districts have one state senate election every even-numbered year.
The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was January 30, 2010. The primary Election Day was May 11, 2010.
In 2010, the candidates for state senate raised a total of $2,663,291 in campaign contributions. The top 10 donors were:
|2010 Donors, West Virginia State Senate|
|Chafin, H Truman||$303,000|
|Smith, Greg (Hootie)||$227,570|
|Contractors Association of West Virginia||$26,300|
|Tucker, Gregory A||$25,200|
|West Virginia Bankers Association||$25,000|
|West Virginia Chamber of Commerce||$21,500|
|West Virginia Building & Construction Trades Council||$18,000|
Elections for the office of West Virginia State Senate consisted of a primary election on May 13, 2008, and a general election on November 4, 2008.
During the 2008 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $2,468,062. The top 10 contributors were:
|2008 Donors, West Virginia State Senate|
|Facemire, Douglas E||$74,925|
|Mallett, Shane M||$32,751|
|Jackson & Kelly||$23,500|
|West Virginia Automobile & Truck Dealers Association||$23,350|
|West Virginia Bankers Association||$23,300|
|West Virginia Hospital Association||$21,450|
|Webb, David H||$21,344|
Elections for the office of West Virginia State Senate consisted of a primary election on May 9, 2006, and a general election on November 7, 2006.
During the 2006 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $3,463,546. The top 10 contributors were:
|2006 Donors, West Virginia State Senate|
|Chafin, H Truman||$144,900|
|Smith, Greg (Hootie)||$127,595|
|Sigler, Harold (Pete)||$111,463|
|Lees Jr, James B||$35,366|
|West Virginia Bankers Association||$22,600|
Elections for the office of West Virginia State Senate consisted of a primary election on May 11, 2004, and a general election on November 2, 2004.
During the 2004 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $2,592,446. The top 10 contributors were:
|2004 Donors, West Virginia State Senate|
|Barnes, Clark S & Deborah||$33,000|
|Barnes, Clark S||$31,142|
|West Virginia Hospital Association||$24,450|
|West Virginia Federation Of Teachers||$23,250|
|West Virginia Laborers District Council||$23,000|
|West Virginia Bankers Association||$22,500|
|J&K State Legislative PAC||$21,750|
|West Virginia Trial Lawyers||$20,000|
|Scholl, Jennifer A||$19,300|
Elections for the office of West Virginia State Senate consisted of a primary election on May 14, 2002, and a general election on November 5, 2002.
During the 2002 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $3,240,627. The top 10 contributors were:
|2002 Donors, West Virginia State Senate|
|Smith, Lisa D||$200,000|
|Chafin, H Truman||$88,000|
|Smith, Lisa D||$49,000|
|Craigo, Oshel B||$48,150|
|West Virginia Bankers Association||$25,500|
|West Virginia Federation Of Teachers||$24,200|
|Baughman, James A||$21,562|
Elections for the office of West Virginia State Senate consisted of a primary election on May 9, 2000, and a general election on November 7, 2000.
During the 2000 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $1,804,817. The top 10 contributors were:
|2000 Donors, West Virginia State Senate|
|Hunt, Mark A||$162,529|
|Caldwell, Anita Skeens||$141,450|
|Rowe, Larry L||$58,232|
|West Virginia Bankers Association||$33,000|
|Lewis, Charles I||$26,000|
|West Virginia Hospital Association||$21,250|
|Facemyer, Hon Karen||$20,150|
|West Virginia Trial Lawyers Association||$17,000|
Section 13 of Article 6 of the West Virginia Constitution states, "No person holding any other lucrative office or employment under this state, the United States, or any foreign government; no member of Congress; and no person who is sheriff, constable, or clerk of any court of record, shall be eligible to a seat in the Legislature."
| How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures |
There are two procedures for filling vacancies dependent upon how much time is left in the vacant senator's term. A gubernatorial appointment is required if less than two months and two years are left in the term. A temporary gubernatorial appointment is required for any vacancy that has more than two months and two years remaining. The person who is selected by the Governor to fill the seat on an interim basis, serves until the next scheduled general election. A special election must be held to determine a permanent replacement. The executive committee of the political party that holds the vacant senate seat is responsible for making recommendations to the Governor on any appointment.
The Legislature is responsible for redistricting in a summer session after Census data comes in; the Governor holds veto power.
West Virginia received its local census data on March 23, 2011. The state grew a meager 2.5 percent with most growth by county seen in the northeast part of the state. The state's largest cities showed decline: Charleston decreased by 3.8 percent, Huntington decreased by 4.5 percent, Parkersburg decreased by 4.9 percent, Morgantown grew by 10.6 percent, and Wheeling decreased by 9.3 percent.
The 2011 redistricting period was notable for the proposal of eliminating the state's multi-member districts, which ultimately failed. The Legislature passed plans in early August; Democratic Governor Ray Tomblin vetoed the House plan on August 17, 2011, calling for another session to begin the next day. On August 21, the Legislature approved revisions to the House plan, and struck down numerous Republican amendment including the replacement of the multi-member system with 100 single-member constituencies. Tomblin signed the plan on Friday, September 2, 2011.
- See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries
As of 2013, members of the West Virginia Legislature are paid $20,000/year. Legislators receive $131/day per diem during session, set by the compensation commission.
When sworn in
West Virginia legislators assume office the first day of December following the election.
- See also: Partisan composition of state senates
|Party||As of November 2014|
The chart below shows the partisan composition of the West Virginia State Senate from 1992-2013.
|Current Leadership, West Virginia State Senate|
|President of the Senate||Jeffrey Kessler||Democratic|
|State Senate President Pro Tempore||Larry Edgell||Democratic|
|State Senate Majority Leader||John Unger||Democratic|
|State Senate Majority Whip||William Laird||Democratic|
|State Senate Minority Leader||Mike Hall||Republican|
|State Senate Minority Whip||Clark Barnes||Republican|
List of current members
The West Virginia State Senate has 18 standing committees:
- Agriculture Committee, West Virginia State Senate
- Banking and Insurance Committee, West Virginia State Senate
- Confirmations Committee, West Virginia State Senate
- Economic Development Committee, West Virginia State Senate
- Education Committee, West Virginia State Senate
- Energy, Industry and Mining Committee, West Virginia State Senate
- Enrolled Bills Committee, West Virginia State Senate
- Finance Committee, West Virginia State Senate
- Government Organization Committee, West Virginia State Senate
- Health and Human Resources Committee, West Virginia State Senate
- Interstate Cooperations Committee, West Virginia State Senate
- Judiciary Committee, West Virginia State Senate
- Labor Committee, West Virginia State Senate
- Military Committee, West Virginia State Senate
- Natural Resources Committee, West Virginia State Senate
- Pensions Committee, West Virginia State Senate
- Rules Committee, West Virginia State Senate
- Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, West Virginia State Senate
Additionally, there is one select committee:
Partisan balance 1992-2013
Throughout every year from 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the West Virginia State Senate. The West Virginia State Senate is 1 of 16 state senates that was Democratic for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. West Virginia was under Democratic trifectas for the final 13 years.
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.
SQLI and partisanship
The chart below depicts the partisanship of West Virginia 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. West Virginia never finished higher than 48th in any year of the study.
- West Virginia Legislature, official website
- List of members of the West Virginia State Senate
- West Virginia state senate districts
- census.gov, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
- U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population," April 2, 2001. Accessed February 13, 2014
- The State Journal, "Issues and Eggs kick off discussion of topics for legislative session," January 8, 2014
- State Journal, "Soft drinks in schools to be considered by WV Legislature," January 8, 2013
- West Virginia Legislature
- WTRF, Tomblin Calls Special Session for Redistricting, July 26, 2011
- The Republic, Tomblin: special session to begin Thurs to remedy House redistricting plan, Aug. 12, 2011
- 2010 session convenes dates for West Virginia Legislature
- 2010 session adjourns dates for West Virginia Legislature
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
- Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
- U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- Follow the Money: "West Virginia Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions"
- Follow the Money, "West Virginia 2008 Candidates," accessed August 14, 2013
- Follow the Money, "West Virginia 2006 Candidates," accessed August 14, 2013
- Follow the Money, "West Virginia 2004 Candidates," accessed August 14, 2013
- Follow the Money, "West Virginia 2002 Candidates," accessed August 14, 2013
- Follow the Money, "West Virginia 2000 Candidates," accessed August 14, 2013
- West Virginia Legislature, "West Virginia Constitution," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Section, Article 4, Section 7)
- West Virginia Legislature, "West Virginia Code," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Statute 3-10-5, WV Code)
- U.S. Census Bureau, "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers West Virginia's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting," March 23, 2011. Accessed August 20, 2012
- NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
- Citizen's Guide to the West Virginia Legislature - Presiding Officers
- West Virginia State Senate Leadership
State of West Virginia
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Secretary of State | Treasurer | State Auditor | Superintendent of Schools | Commissioner of Insurance | Commissioner of Agriculture | Director of Natural Resources | Commissioner of Labor | Chairman of Public Service Commission |