Kentucky State Senate

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Kentucky State Senate

Seal of Kentucky.png
General Information
Type:   Upper house
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   January 8, 2013
Website:   Official Senate Page
Senate President:   Robert Stivers, (R)
Majority Leader:   Damon Thayer, (R)
Minority Leader:   R.J. Palmer, (D)
Members:  38
   Democratic Party (11)
Republican Party (27)
Independent (1)
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:   Legislative, Sec 29, Kentucky Constitution
Salary:   $186.73/day + per diem
Last Election:  November 6, 2012 (19 seats)
Next election:  November 4, 2014 (19 seats)
Redistricting:  Kentucky Legislature has control
Meeting place:
Kentucky Senate Chamber.jpg
The Kentucky State Senate is the upper house of the Kentucky State Legislature. 38 members serve in the senate for four-year terms with no term limits. Each member represents an average of 114,194 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[1] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 106,362 residents.[2]

As of May 2015, Kentucky is one of 19 states that is under divided government and is therefore not one of the state government trifectas.


Section 36 of The Legislative Department of the Kentucky Constitution establishes when the Kentucky General Assembly, which the Senate is a part of, is required to meet. Regular Sessions convene on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January. Sessions in odd numbered years can last no more than 30 legislative days and must be concluded by March 30. Sessions in even numbered years can last no more than 60 legislative days and must be concluded by April 15. The governor may call additional special sessions.[3]

Bills may be filed at anytime the House and Senate Senate Clerks' offices are open. [4]


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 through March 26.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included reforms to the states tax code, pension plans for governmental retirees, legalization of casino style gambling, and redistricting.[5]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Senate was in session from January 3 through April 9.


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Senate was in session from January 4 through March 9, and reconvened for a special session on March 14. The session was called to an early end by Senate President David Williams on March 9, 12 days sooner than the originally scheduled end date of March 22. [6] On March 9, Governor Steve Beshear called to re-convene on March 14 for a special legislative session, focused on balancing the state's Medicaid budget. [7] The House adjourned the special session on March 25, however, the Senate is set to return on April 6. [8]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Senate was in session from January 5th to April 15th. [9]


See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Kentucky was given a grade of F in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was 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.[10]



See also: Kentucky State Senate elections, 2012

Elections for the office of Kentucky State Senate were held in Kentucky on November 6, 2012. A total of 19 seats were up for election. The signature filing deadline was January 31, 2012 and the primary date was May 22, 2012.

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


See also: Kentucky State Senate elections, 2010

Elections for the office of Kentucky State Senate were held in Kentucky on November 2, 2010. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was January 26, 2010 and the primary election day was on May 18, 2010.

There are 38 seats in the Kentucky State Senate and 19 of them are up for re-election on November 2.

In 2010, candidates running for state senate raised a total of $5,379,997 in campaign contributions. The top 10 donors were: [11]


To be eligible to serve in the Kentucky State Senate, a candidate must be:[12]

  • At least 30 years of age at the time of the election
  • A citizen of Kentucky
  • Resided in the state 6 years preceding the election
  • Resided in the district for the last year


See also: How vacancies are filled in state legislatures
How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures
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If there is a vacancy in the Senate, a special election must be held to fill the vacant seat. The Governor must call for an election if the General Assembly is not in session. The Senate President must call for an election if lawmakers are in session[13]. All nominating deadlines for special elections are 28 days before the election[14].


Redistricting is handled by the General Assembly. By tradition rather than law, each chamber devises its own map, which is submitted as a bill and subject to a vote like other legislation. The Governor wields veto power.

2010 census

Kentucky received local census data on March 17, 2011. The state's population grew 7.4 percent to 4,339,367, with the central region's population gaining at the expense of the remainder.[15]

At the time of redistricting, the Assembly was split, with Democrats controlling the House and Republicans controlling the Senate. Without a costly special session called, the Assembly began the redistricting process for legislative boundaries in January 2011. On January 20, Governor Steve Beshear (D) signed the state's legislative redistricting maps into law. Each chamber drew its own maps; the Governor criticized Senate Republicans for drawing partisan maps, but did not chasten the House's plan. House Republicans filed suit on the 26th on the grounds that the Democrats' map divided counties needlessly. The circuit court overturned the new legislative districts on February 7, citing excessive population disparities and division of counties. Expediting the Republicans' appeal, the Kentucky Supreme Court heard oral arguments on February 24, upholding the lower court's decision the same day.



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2012, members of the Kentucky legislature are paid $188.22/day. Additionally, legislators receive $135.30/day per diem tied to 110% of the federal rate.[16]

The $188.22/day that Kentucky legislators are paid as of 2011 is an increase over the $180.54 they were paid during legislative sessions in 2007. Per diem has increased from $108.90/day in 2007 to $135.30/day in 2011.[17]


Legislative pensions in Kentucky are equal to 2.75% to 5% of the salary multiplied by the number of years served, while regular state pensions equal 1.1% to 2.5% of salary multiplied by years served. Starting in 2005, retiring legislators holding full-time jobs with the state could base their legislative pension on this higher salary, rather than their actual legislative salary.[18]

Partisan composition

See also: Partisan composition of state senates
Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 11
     Republican Party 26
     Vacancy 1
Total 38

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Kentucky State Senate from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Kentucky State Senate.PNG


The President and President Pro Tempore are elected by the full Senate. The majority and minority parties select a floor leader, whip, and caucus leader.[19]

Current leadership

Current Leadership, Kentucky State Senate
Office Representative Party
President of the Senate Robert Stivers Ends.png Republican
President Pro Tempore Katie Stine Ends.png Republican
State Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer Ends.png Republican
State Senate Majority Caucus Leader Dan Seum Ends.png Republican
State Senate Majority Whip Brandon Smith Ends.png Republican
State Senate Minority Leader R.J. Palmer Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Minority Caucus Leader Johnny Ray Turner Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Minority Whip Jerry Rhoads Electiondot.png Democratic

When sworn in

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

Kentucky legislators assume office the first day of January after their election.

Current members

Current members, Kentucky State Senate
District Senator Party Assumed office
1 Stan Humphries Ends.png Republican 2013
2 Bob Leeper Grey.png Nonpartisan 1991
3 Whitney Westerfield Ends.png Republican 2013
4 Dorsey Ridley Electiondot.png Democratic 2005
5 Carroll Gibson Ends.png Republican 2005
6 Jerry Rhoads Electiondot.png Democratic 2003
7 Julian Carroll Electiondot.png Democratic 2005
8 Joe Bowen Ends.png Republican 2011
9 David Givens Ends.png Republican 2009
10 Dennis Parrett Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
11 John Schickel Ends.png Republican 2009
12 Alice Kerr Ends.png Republican 1999
13 Kathy Stein Electiondot.png Democratic 2009
14 Jimmy Higdon Ends.png Republican 2009
15 Chris Girdler Ends.png Republican 2013
16 Sara Beth Gregory Ends.png Republican 2013
17 Damon Thayer Ends.png Republican 2003
18 Robin Webb Electiondot.png Democratic 2009
19 Morgan McGarvey Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
20 Paul Hornback Ends.png Republican 2011
21 Albert Robinson Ends.png Republican 2013
22 Tom Buford Ends.png Republican 1991
23 Chris McDaniel Ends.png Republican 2013
24 Katie Stine Ends.png Republican 1999
25 Robert Stivers Ends.png Republican 1997
26 Ernie Harris Ends.png Republican 1995
27 Walter Blevins Electiondot.png Democratic 1993
28 R.J. Palmer Electiondot.png Democratic 2001
29 Johnny Ray Turner Electiondot.png Democratic 2001
30 Brandon Smith Ends.png Republican 2008
31 Ray Jones Electiondot.png Democratic 2001
32 Mike Wilson Ends.png Republican 2011
33 Gerald Neal Electiondot.png Democratic 1989
34 Jared Carpenter Ends.png Republican 2011
35 Denise Angel Electiondot.png Democratic 2005
36 Julie Denton Ends.png Republican 1995
37 Perry Clark Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
38 Dan Seum Ends.png Republican 1995

Senate Committees

The Kentucky Senate has 15 committees:


Partisan balance 1992-2013

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

From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Kentucky State Senate for the first nine years while the Republicans were the majority for last 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 have 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 Kentucky, the Kentucky State Senate and the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Kentucky state government(1992-2013).PNG

External links