Pennsylvania State Senate
|Pennsylvania State Senate|
|2015 session start:||January 7, 2014|
|Website:||Official Senate Page|
|Senate President:||Jim Cawley, (R)|
|Majority Leader:||Dominic Pileggi, (R)|
|Minority Leader:||Jay Costa, (D)|
Democratic Party (19)
Republican Party (30)
|Length of term:||4 years|
|Authority:||Art II, Sec 3, Pennsylvania Constitution|
|Salary:||$82,026/year + per diem|
|Last Election:||November 6, 2012 (25 seats)|
|Next election:||November 4, 2014 (25 seats)|
|Redistricting:||Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 Elections
- 4 Redistricting
- 5 Senators
- 6 Senate Committees
- 7 History
- 8 External links
- 9 References
The Pennsylvania senate is a continuing body during the term for which its senators are elected. It meets at noon on the first Tuesday of January and then regularly throughout the year. When the Pennsylvania Constitution stipulates that the General Assembly must meet in regular session annually, that means the session of one year must adjourn by noon of the first Tuesday of the following year. Two regular sessions cannot meet at the same time.
The General Assembly must also adjourn by midnight, November 30, in even-numbered years due to the expiration of the terms of office of all House members and half the Senate. The Lieutenant Governor, as President of the Senate, can cast a tie-breaking vote on any question except the final passage of a bill or joint resolution, the adoption of a conference report, or the concurrence in amendments made by the House of Representatives.
As of May 2015, Pennsylvania is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.
Article II of the Pennsylvania Constitution establishes when the Pennsylvania General Assembly, of which the Senate is a part, is to meet. Section 4 of Article II states that the General Assembly is to convene its regular session on the first Tuesday of January each year.
Section 4 gives the Governor of Pennsylvania the authority to convene special sessions of the General Assembly either when he judges a special session to be in the public interest, or when a majority of each legislative House requests a special session.
- See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
In 2014, the General Assembly will be in session from January 7 through November 30.
Major issues during the 2014 legislative session include public pension reform and liquor privatization.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
In 2013, the General Assembly was in session from January 2 to December 31.
Like many other states, Pennsylvania lawmakers had to work on the budget deficit. Other issues included economic development, public pension reform, liquor privatization, and child abuse.
In November 2013, the Pennsylvania state House and state Senate voted unanimously on a bill, which was signed by Gov. Tom Corbett, to change the state’s unemployment compensation law. The bill closed a loophole that allowed a state employee to retire from his job and begin collecting benefits, only to be hired back as a part-time employee while also collecting unemployment compensation after leaving a previous job. While the law closed a triple-dipping loophole, the changes do not prevent double-dipping, in which a state employee retires, begins collecting pension benefits, and returns to work a part-time position.
In November 2013, the state House approved a gambling expansion bill by a vote of 102-96. The bill would allow Pennsylvania bars and taverns to conduct “small scale gambling” such as raffles and drawings for cash prizes. A similar bill was approved by the Senate in October 2013, but the House-passed bill must be agreed to before the measure becomes law. Proponents of the bill say the state could raise almost $156 million annually in tax revenue if as many as 2,000 bars and taverns accept it. Opponents of the legislation say the bill would not produce the promised revenue and would hurt families.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
In 2012, the Senate began its legislative session on January 3.
- See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions
In 2011, the Senate will be in session from January 4 through a date to be determined by the General Assembly. 
- See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions
Ethics and transparency
Open States Transparency
The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Pennsylvania was given a grade of C 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.
Elections for the office of Pennsylvania State Senate took place in 2014. A primary election took place on May 20, 2014. The general election was held on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in that election was March 11, 2014.
|2012 Donors, Pennsylvania State Senate|
|Pennsylvania Republican Party||$1,794,822|
|Friends of Dominic Pileggi||$866,715|
|Senate Republican Campaign Cmte of Pennsylvania||$771,990|
|Pennsylvania Association for Justice||$570,800|
|Northwest Good Government Pac||$508,977|
|Friends of Joe Scarnati||$461,100|
|Pennsylvania Democratic Party||$417,045|
|Gehret, John K||$382,045|
|Pennsylvania State Education Association||$351,205|
The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.
|2012 Margin of Victory, Pennsylvania State Senate|
|District||Winner||Margin of Victory||Total Votes||Top Opponent|
|District 35||John Wozniak||2%||91,481||Timothy Houser|
|District 15||Rob Teplitz||3.1%||118,643||John McNally|
|District 37||Matthew Smith||5.2%||134,737||D. Raja|
|District 9||Dominic Pileggi||10.8%||131,772||Patricia Worrell|
|District 13||Lloyd Smucker||11.4%||115,134||Tom O'Brien|
|District 29||David Argall||12.3%||101,202||Tim Seip|
|District 47||Elder Vogel||14.1%||100,961||Kimberly Villella|
|District 19||Andy Dinniman||14.9%||145,503||Christopher Amentas|
|District 49||Sean Wiley||20%||101,513||Janet Anderson|
|District 17||Daylin Leach||26.4%||124,215||Charles Gehret|
The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was March 9, 2010. The primary election day was May 18, 2010.
|2010 Donors, Pennsylvania State Senate|
|Pennsylvania Republican Party||$1,232,940|
|Volpe Jr., Charles J||$690,659|
|Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters & Joiners||$342,650|
|Pennsylvania Association for Justice||$296,200|
|Senate Republican Campaign Cmte of Pennsylvania||$293,903|
|Friends of Dominic Pileggi||$282,650|
|Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association||$270,000|
|Electrical Workers Local 98||$248,000|
|Templeton Jr., John M||$154,500|
Elections for the office of Pennsylvania State Senate will be held in Pennsylvania on November 4, 2008. A total of 25 seats were up for election.
The signature filing deadline was February 14, 2008 and the primary date was April 22, 2008.
|2008 Donors, Pennsylvania State Senate|
|Pennsylvania Republican Party||$2,378,474|
|Pennsylvania Democratic Party||$1,608,546|
|Senate Republican Campaign Cmte of Pennsylvania||$1,581,016|
|Pennsylvania Democratic State Senate Campaign Cmte||$837,158|
|Electrical Workers Local 98||$406,500|
|Pennsylvania Association for Justice||$312,650|
|Pennsylvania Education Association||$307,965|
|Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters & Joiners||$263,250|
|Public Service Pac||$218,000|
Elections for the office of Pennsylvania's State Senate consisted of a primary election date on May 16, 2006 and a general election on November 7, 2006. A total of 25 seats were up for election.
|2006 Donors, Pennsylvania State Senate|
|Pennsylvania Republican Party||$1,256,608|
|Pennsylvania Democratic Party||$718,713|
|Senate Republican Campaign Cmte of Pennsylvania||$346,467|
|Wheaton, Heidi F||$334,823|
|Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association||$300,975|
|Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters & Joiners||$254,440|
|Morris, Shannon M||$200,000|
|Pennsylvania Education Association||$192,430|
|Democratic State Senate Campaign Cmte of Pennsylvania||$191,700|
|Pennsylvania Future Fund||$175,550|
Elections for the office of Pennsylvania's State Senate consisted of a primary election date on April 27, 2004 and a general election on November 2, 2004. A total of 25 seats were up for election.
|2004 Donors, Pennsylvania State Senate|
|Pennsylvania Republican Party||$925,561|
|Senate Republican Campaign Cmte of Pennsylvania||$725,764|
|Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters & Joiners||$331,700|
|Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association||$311,450|
|Pennsylvania 2100 Cmte||$203,000|
|Marcus, Stephen C||$185,000|
|Pennsylvania Democratic Party||$176,693|
|Electrical Workers Local 98||$168,950|
|Afscme Council 13||$157,690|
Elections for the office of Pennsylvania's State Senate consisted of a primary election date on May 21, 2002 and a general election on November 5, 2002. A total of 25 seats were up for election.
|2002 Donors, Pennsylvania State Senate|
|Senate Republican Campaign Cmte of Pennsylvania||$1,706,366|
|Pennsylvania Republican Party||$926,996|
|Pennsylvania Democratic Party||$700,878|
|Pennsylvania Future Fund||$345,600|
|Democratic State Senate Campaign Cmte of Pennsylvania||$301,840|
|Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association||$272,550|
|Casey for Governor Cmte||$250,270|
|Republicans for Maza||$231,419|
|Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters & Joiners||$158,100|
Elections for the office of Pennsylvania's State Senate consisted of a primary election date on April 4, 2000 and a general election on November 7, 2000. A total of 25 seats were up for election.
|2000 Donors, Pennsylvania State Senate|
|Senate Republican Campaign Cmte of Pennsylvania||$702,774|
|Pennsylvania Republican Party||$664,839|
|Democratic State Senate Campaign Cmte of Pennsylvania||$422,000|
|Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association||$146,100|
|Heindl, Dennis D||$125,000|
|Marcus, Stephen C||$103,500|
|Pennsylvania State Education Association||$80,258|
|Pennsylvania Association of Realtors||$74,625|
|Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters & Joiners||$70,200|
|Ridge Leadership Fund||$66,500|
Under Article II of the Pennsylvania Constitution, Senators shall be at least twenty-five years of age and Representatives twenty-one years of age. They shall have been citizens and inhabitants of their respective districts one year next before their election (unless absent on the public business of the United States or of this State) and shall reside in their respective districts during their terms of service.
| How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures |
If there is a vacancy in the senate, a special election must be held to fill the vacant seat. The Senate President must call for a special election. There are no deadlines set in the state constitution on when a special election can be held.
- See also: Redistricting in Pennsylvania
As far as legislative redistricting, the Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission is responsible. This commission is normally made up of the majority and minority leaders of each legislative chamber, plus a fifth member selected by the other four to serve as chair. If the four cannot agree on a fifth, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decides. The commission has until the October of the redistricting year to submit a plan.
Pennsylvania received its local census data on March 9, 2011. The state had a low 3.4 percent growth rate from 2000-2010. The five most populous cities showed mostly stagnation: Philadelphia grew by 0.6 percent, Pittsburgh decreased by 8.6 percent, Allentown grew by 10.7 percent, Erie decreased by 1.9 percent, and Reading grew by 8.5 percent. By county, the major standout was Forest County with a 56 percent rate of growth.
On August 17, 2011, the Commission approved the census data and went to work on a preliminary map, which it passed on October 31, 2011 by a vote of 3-2. Democrats were not happy with the plan or the negotiation process. Final maps were approved on December 12, 2011 by a 4-1 vote, moving a Senate district and five House districts from west to east. There was a 30-day window to file appeals, of which 11 were filed. The state Supreme Court threw out the maps on January 25, 2012 after appeals were heard.
The commission met on April 12, 2012 to vote in favor of a compromise map, which contained two Senate district splits and 68 House splits. On June 8, the commission approved the final plan, which went to the state Supreme Court for final approval.
- See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries
As of 2013, members of the Pennsylvania Legislature are paid $82,026/year during legislative sessions. Legislators receive $159/day (vouchered) tied to the federal rate, which they can receive actual expenses or per diem.
Legislators in Pennsylvania are able to retire at age 50, while other state workers cannot retire until they turn 60. In 2011, the average legislative pension was $35,221 annually, while the average state employee pension was $23,491. According to former legislator David Mayernik, who began collecting a pension of $29,583 a year when he retired at age 50, the lowered retirement age was intended as compensation for small legislative salaries as well as the uncertainty of serving in office.
When sworn in
Pennsylvania legislators assume office in January.
- See also: Partisan composition of state senates
|Party||As of May 2015|
List of current members
The Pennsylvania Senate has 22 standing committees:
- Aging & Youth Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Appropriations Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Banking & Insurance Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Communications & Technology Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Education Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Environmental Resources & Energy Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Finance Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Game & Fisheries Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Intergovernmental Operations Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Judiciary Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Labor & Industry Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Law & Justice Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Local Government Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Public Health & Welfare Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Rules & Executive Nominations Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- State Government Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Transportation Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Urban Affairs & Housing Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
- Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee, Pennsylvania State Senate
Partisan balance 1992-2013
From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Pennsylvania State Senate for one year while the Republicans were the majority for 21 years. The Pennsylvania State Senate is one of 13 state senates that was Republican for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. Pennsylvania was under Republican 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 have 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 Pennsylvania 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. Pennsylvania had a Democratic trifecta in 1993, but switched two years later to a Republican trifecta that lasted from 1995-2002. The state had a divided government for many years until a Republican trifecta returned in 2011. Pennsylvania's worst SQLI ranking, finishing 30th, occurred in 1994 during a divided government and in 2012 during a Republican trifecta. The state's best ranking, finishing 19th, occurred from 1999-2000 during a Republican trifecta and again in 2004 during a divided government.
- SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 25.00
- SQLI average with Republican trifecta: 23.70
- SQLI average with divided government: 25.20
- Pennsylvania State Senate official website
- Official list of members of the Pennsylvania State Senate
- Pennsylvania State Senate on Wikipedia
- Population in 2010 of the American states, accessed November 22, 2013
- Population in 2000 of the American states, Accessed November 27, 2013
- "Pennsylvania General Assembly" About the Pennsylvania Senate, March 3, 2009
- blog.pennlive.com/, "Pa. Senate Prez: Do away with 'obsolete, unsustainable' pensions or face budget crash: Friday Morning Coffee," accessed January 10, 2014
- Post-Gazette, "Pennsylvania lawmakers start settling in," January 2, 2013
- The Reporter Online "Triple-dipping loophole in Pa. unemployment law finally closed," Accessed December 6, 2013
- WatchDog.org "Gambling expansion bill heads to Pennsylvania Senate," Accessed December 9, 2013
- 2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar, NCSL
- 2010 session dates for Pennsylvania legislature
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- Follow the Money "Pennsylvania State Senate 2012 Campaign Contributions"
- Follow the Money "Pennsylvania State Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions"
- Follow the Money "Pennsylvania State Senate 2008 Campaign Contributions"
- Follow the Money "Pennsylvania State Senate 2006 Campaign Contributions"
- Follow the Money "Pennsylvania State Senate 2004 Campaign Contributions"
- Follow the Money "Pennsylvania State Senate 2002 Campaign Contributions"
- Follow the Money "Pennsylvania State Senate 2000 Campaign Contributions"
- State of Pennsylvania, "Pennsylvania Constitution," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Section, Article II, Section 2)
- U.S. Census Bureau, "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Pennsylvania's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting," March 9, 2011. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
- NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
- USA Today, "State lawmakers pump up pensions in ways you can't," September 23, 2011
- Pennsylvania General Assembly FAQ
- Officers of the Pennsylvania Senate
State of Pennsylvania
|State executive offices||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Secretary of State | Treasurer | Auditor General | Secretary of Education | Commissioner of Insurance | Secretary of Agriculture | Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources | Secretary of Labor & Industry | Chairman of Public Utilities |