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Revision as of 15:23, 15 May 2013

California State Senate

Seal of California.svg.png
General Information
Type:   Upper house
Term limits:   2 terms (8 years)
2015 session start:   December 3, 2012
Website:   Official Senate Page
Senate President:   Darrell Steinberg, (D)
Majority Leader:   Ellen Corbett, (D)
Minority leader:   Bob Huff, (R)
Members:  40
   Democratic Party (25)
Republican Party (12)
Vacant (2)
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:   Art IV, California Constitution
Salary:   $95,291/year + per diem
Last Election:  November 6, 2012 (20 seats)
Next election:  November 4, 2014 (20 seats)
Redistricting:  California Citizens Redistricting Commission
Meeting place:
California state senate.JPG
The California State Senate is the upper house of the California State Legislature. It is made up of 40 state senators and meets in Sacramento. Members of the Democratic Party are currently in the majority in the California Senate.

Each California senator represents a district with an average population of 931,349 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[1] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 846,791 residents.[2] Members serve four-year terms.[3] The terms of the Senators are staggered so that half the membership is elected every two years. The senators representing odd-numbered districts are elected in years evenly divisible by four. The senators from even-numbered districts are elected in the intervening even-numbered years.

Since the passage of Prop 140 in 1990, California senators have been limited to two terms in office.

The California Senate has a $100 million annual operating budget and 900 staff employees. Most senators are paid an annual salary of $116,208.[4]

As of May 2013, California is one of 12 Democratic state government trifectas.


Article IV of the California Constitution establishes when the California State Legislature, of which the Senate is a part, is to be in session. Section 3 of Article IV states that the Legislature is to convene in regular session on the first Monday of December in each even-numbered year to organize. The Legislature must adjourn by November 30th of the following even-numbered year.

Section 3 also gives the Governor of California the power to call special sessions of the Legislature.


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature is in session from December 3, 2012 to November 30, 2013.

Major issues

With a newly-gained super-majority (which might not last long), Democrats have to decide how to use their new powers, among which is the ability to pass tax increases without any Republican support. Major issues for the session include property taxes for education and tax breaks for students.[5]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Senate was in session from January 4 to August 31.


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Senate will be in session from January 3- September 9, 2011. The California Legislature was convened in an extraordinary session to act upon legislation that addresses the fiscal emergency proclaimed by Governor Jerry Brown on January 20, 2011. [6]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Senate began its regular session on January 12th, and this session is scheduled to adjourn on August 31st. Additionally, the Senate adjourned one special session on January 11th of this year, has one ongoing special session that convened in October of 2009, and has another ongoing special session that convened on January 8th, 2010.



See also: California State Senate elections, 2012

Elections for the office of California State Senate were held in California on November 6, 2012. State senate seats in the odd-numbered districts were on the ballot in 2012. A total of 20 seats were up for election. In 2010, senators from even-numbered districts were up for election. In 2012, voters in the 20 odd-numbered districts went to the polls to elect senators. The signature filing deadline was March 9th.

Redistricting in California in 2011 was undertaken by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission for the first time. There was the possibility that some voters would be re-located either from an odd district to an even district, or vice versa. But even more specifically, there was the possibility that a senator elected in 2010 could have run in 2012 in an even-numbered district. If that were to happen, then the odd-district would have been represented by a "custodian" -- selected by the Rules Committee.

Additionally, if a senator in an odd-district (elected in 2008) were to be moved into an even-district, then the voters of that district would have two senators -- the new senator, and the old one elected in 2010.

California state senators are subject to term limits and may serve no more than two four-year terms. In 2012, 9 state senators were termed-out.

This chamber was mentioned in a November 2012 Pew Center on the States article that addressed supermajorities at stake in the 2012 election. Supermajority generally means a party controls two-thirds of all seats. While it varies from state to state, being in this position gives a party much greater power. Democrats had been the majority party in California for over 40 years. Going into the election, they were two seats shy of a supermajority. Expanded powers of a supermajority in California include the ability to control appointments and raise taxes.[7]

The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.


See also: California State Senate elections, 2010

Elections for the office of California State Senator were held in California on November 2, 2010. State senate seats in the even numbered districts were on the ballot in 2010. There was also a special election for district 37 on June 8, 2010.

The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was February 25, 2010, and the primary election day was June 8, 2010.

In California, senators serve four-year terms with a two term limit. The Senators representing the odd-numbered districts are elected in years evenly divisible by four. The senators from the even-numbered districts are elected in the intervening even-numbered years.

In 2010, the candidates running for senate raised a total of $23,000,670 in campaign funds. Their top 10 contributors were: [8]


A candidate shall:

A. Be at least 30 years of age, a U.S. citizen for nine years, and a resident of California when elected. U.S. Const. Art. I, §3
B. Have a valid voter registration affidavit on file in the county of residence at the time nomination papers are obtained. §201
C. Satisfy the following registration requirements:
1. Be registered with the political party whose nomination he or she is seeking for not less than three months immediately prior to the time the declaration of candidacy is presented to the county elections official or, if eligible to register for less than three months, for as long as he or she has been eligible to register to vote in California. §8001(a)(1)
2. Not have been registered as affiliated with any other qualified political party within twelve months immediately prior to the filing of the declaration of candidacy. §8001(a)(2)



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 call for a special election. The election must be called by the Governor within fourteen days of the vacancy being created. No special election can be held if the vacancy happened in an election year and the nominating deadline passed[10].


See also: Redistricting in California

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission -- made up of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four independents -- is responsible for redistricting.

2010 census

California received its local census data on March 7, 2011.[11] The fastest growing counties were Riverside (41.7 percent), Placer (40.3 percent) and Kern (26.9 percent) -- all inland locations.[12]

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission approved maps on August 15, 2011. The final votes were 13-1 on the Senate and Assembly maps and 12-2 on the Congressional map. Republican Michael Ward voted no to both maps while Jodie Filkins Webber joined Ward in dissenting on the Congressional map. A referendum to overturn the Senate map was initiated in August 2011.[13][14]


Partisan composition

See also: Partisan composition of state senates
Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 25
     Republican Party 12
     Vacancy 3
Total 40


The Lieutenant Governor serves as President of the Senate but only casts a vote in the case of a tie. The President Pro Tempore, who is elected by full senate caucus, more often than not presides over the daily senate session and serves as leader of the majority party.

Current leadership

Current Leadership, California State Senate
Office Representative Party
President Pro Tem of the Senate Darrell Steinberg Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Assistant President Pro Tempore Vacant Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Majority Caucus Leader Kevin de León Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Minority Whip Vacant Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff Ends.png Republican
State Senate Minority Caucus Leader Vacant Ends.png Republican
State Senate Minority Whip Vacant Ends.png Republican


See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the California legislature are paid $95,291 per year. They are also given per diem of $141.86 per day in session.[15]

The $95,291 that California legislators are paid is a decrease from the $113,098/year that they were paid during legislative sessions in 2007. The per diem however has increased from 2007 levels of $162 per day.[16]


California does not provide pensions for legislators who took office after 1990.[17]

When sworn in

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

California legislators assume office one month after election (December).

Current members

Current members, California State Senate
District Senator Party Assumed office
1 Ted Gaines Ends.png Republican 2011
2 Noreen Evans Electiondot.png Democratic 2010
3 Lois Wolk Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
4 Jim Nielsen Ends.png Republican 2013
5 Cathleen Galgiani Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
6 Darrell Steinberg Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
7 Mark DeSaulnier Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
8 Leland Yee Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
9 Loni Hancock Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
10 Ellen M. Corbett Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
11 Mark Leno Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
12 Anthony Cannella Ends.png Republican 2010
13 Gerald Hill Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
14 Tom Berryhill Ends.png Republican 2010
15 James Beall Jr. Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
16 Vacant
17 Bill Monning Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
18 Jean Fuller Ends.png Republican 2010
19 Hannah-Beth Jackson Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
20 Alex Padilla Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
21 Stephen Knight Ends.png Republican 2012
22 Kevin de León Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
23 Bill Emmerson Ends.png Republican 2010
24 Ed Hernandez Electiondot.png Democratic 2010
25 Carol Liu Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
26 Curren Price Electiondot.png Democratic 2009
27 Fran Pavley Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
28 Ted Lieu Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
29 Bob Huff Ends.png Republican 2008
30 Ronald S. Calderon Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
31 Richard Roth Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
32 Vacant
33 Ricardo Lara Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
34 Lou Correa Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
35 Rod Wright Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
36 Joel Anderson Ends.png Republican 2006
37 Mimi Walters Ends.png Republican 2008
38 Mark Wyland Ends.png Republican 2006
39 Martin Block Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
40 Ben Hueso Electiondot.png Democratic 2013



California's state senators earn $95,291 per year. Senatorial pay is set by the California Citizens Compensation Commission. In 2009, it voted to cut legislators' salaries by 18% effective in December 2010.[18]

In June 2009, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg recommended that senators and staffers take a 5% pay cut in the face of the state's budget troubles.[19]

When sworn in

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

California legislators assume office one month after election (December).

Senate committees

The California Senate has twenty-three (23) standing committees:

External links