State Legislative Tracker: 24 states have had signature filing deadlines
Edited by Greg Janetka
Starting this week, the State Legislative Tracker will be organized into tabs.
- Sessions: This section will be a breakdown of states in session and updates from some states
- Redistricting: This section will detail redistricting news from the past week
- 2012 Legislative Elections: This section will contain an update on signature filing deadlines and primaries
- Recalls: This section will provide a recap of relevant recall news
- Special Elections: This section will chronicle special elections in state legislatures
As of today, April 9, 2012, the following figures represent the cumulative partisan breakdown of the 50 state senates and state houses. In the 50 states, Republicans currently control 53.7% of all seats while Democrats hold 44.7%. All told, Republicans control 58 chambers while Democrats are the majority in 36 chambers. Four chambers are tied, while one is non-partisan.
The totals represent a loss of 1 Democratic and 4 Republican legislators from the March 5 tracker.
|Representation in 50 State Legislatures|
|Democratic state legislators||3,301||44.7%|
|Republican state legislators||3,965||53.7%|
|Independent state legislators||71||0.96%|
|Third party (and non-voting) legislators||11||0.15%|
The partisan composition of state houses refers to which party holds the majority of seats in the state house or the lower level of each state legislature. Altogether, in the 49 state houses, there are 5,413 state representatives.
As of April 9, 2012, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:
- 18 chambers
- 30 chambers
- 1 chamber (Oregon)
- See also: Partisan composition of state senates
As of April 9, 2012, 5,362 state representatives are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.
|Democratic state representatives||2,428||44.9%|
|Republican state representatives||2,934||54.2%|
|Independent state representatives||18||0.33%|
|Third party (and non-voting) representatives||9||0.17%|
There are 26 state house vacancies in 14 different states as of April 9, 2012. They are as follows:
There are 27 state representatives in 13 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Representative as of April 9, 2012. They are as follows:
|Maine||3 (2 non-voting Native American representatives, 1 Independent)|
|New Hampshire||2 (Independent)|
|New Mexico||1 (Independent)|
|New York||1 (Independence Party of New York)|
|North Carolina||1 (Independent)|
|South Dakota||1 (Independent)|
|Tennessee||1 (Carter County Republican)|
|Vermont||8 (5 Vermont Progressive Party, 3 Independent)|
As of April 9, 2012, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:
- See also: Partisan composition of state houses
As of April 9, 2012, 1,904 state senators are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.
|Democratic state senators||873||44.3%|
|Republican state senators||1,031||52.3%|
|Non-partisan state senators||49||2.49%|
|Independent state senators||4||0.2%|
|Third Party state senators||2||0.10%|
There are 12 state senate vacancies as of April 9, 2012.
There are 6 state senators in 5 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Representative as of April 9, 2012. They are as follows:
|Rhode Island||1 (Independent)|
|Vermont||2 (Vermont Progressive Party)|
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
The following states convened their regular legislative sessions:
- January 17: Alaska, New Mexico
- January 18: Hawaii
- January 23: Utah
- January 24: Minnesota
- February 1: Oregon
- February 5: Oklahoma
- February 7: Alabama
- February 8: Connecticut
- February 13: Arkansas, Wyoming
- March 12: Louisiana State Legislature
The following states have ended their regular session:
- February 16: New Mexico
- March 6: Oregon
- March 8: Utah, Washington
- March 9: Arkansas, Florida, Wyoming
- March 10: Indiana, Virginia, West Virginia
- March 16: Wisconsin (will return for limited business on April 24)
- March 19: South Dakota
- March 29: Georgia, Idaho
- Click here to see a chart of each state's 2012 session information.
| Snapshot of State Legislatures: |
Monday, April 9, 2012
|There are 7,384 Total State Legislators|
|Total Democratic state legislators||3,301 (44.7%)|
|Total Republican state legislators||3,965 (53.7%)|
|There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers|
|Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers||36|
|Total Republican Party-controlled chambers||58|
|Total tied or nonpartisan chambers||5|
|2012 Session Information|
|Total Special Elections||18|
|Total Special Sessions||5|
Special sessions were a widespread occurrence in the state legislatures in 2011, in particular due to the necessity of states to conduct the redistricting of state legislative and congressional districts. Overall, in 2011 there were 45 special sessions in 28 states.
Thus far there have been five special sessions in 4 states. Two of which are ongoing.
Unless they can come to an agreement soon, Alaska may hold a special session on reforms to the state's oil-tax structure. North Slope production continues to decline and lawmakers are seeking to construct a tax bill with incentives to halt the decline without sacrificing too much in revenues. The regular session is projected to end April 15.
The Virginia General Assembly is currently adjourned but remains in special session. It ended its regular session on March 10 without passing a new state budget. Thus, the same day that the Legislature adjourned, it also formally started a special session to address the issue. Last Thursday the Senate Finance Committee reached a compromise on the state budget and adjourned. They will reconvene for a final floor vote on the bill on April 17. If passed it will go to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) for his signature.
Democrats initially sought changes to spending priorities, as well as a power sharing agreement in the equally divided Senate. In late March Democrats agreed to separate their quest for more power in the chamber from the budget process and the Senate passed a new $85 billion budget by a vote of 35-4. The measure then went to the House, who passed its own version back in February.
Washington is currently in special session. Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) called for the session on March 8 after it was clear the Legislature was going to end its 60-day regular session without passing a supplemental budget plan. House Democrats passed a budget agreement by a 53-45 vote, but it included a delayed payment for schools, something that had previously failed in the Senate. While Democrats hold the majority in the Senate, three members broke from the party ranks to vote for a Republican plan that got rid of the delayed payment and focused instead on more spending cuts.
Senate Republicans unveiled a new plan on March 15 that Gregoire said she had no knowledge of despite meetings between the governor and senate leaders of both parties. Angered at being kept in the dark, she said she would not sign most of the bills awaiting her signature and threatened to veto some of them in order to force lawmakers to break their stalemate. Gregoire lifted her ban on bill signing on March 29, saying, “In the next 48 hours, we could have an agreement. Then again, in the next 48 hours, it could all fall apart.”
Indeed, lawmakers failed to reach an agreement and negotiations remain ongoing. The special session ends tomorrow and if a supplemental budget is not passed, another special session will be necessary.
As of today, April 9, 4 states' sessions are currently in recess:
- Kansas - In recess from March 31 to April 24. Will return for wrap-up session April 25, scheduled to adjourn April 30.
- New Jersey - In recess for budget hearings from March 16, 2012 through May 15, 2012
- North Carolina - Mid-term recess June 18, 2011 through May 12, 2012
- Wisconsin - In recess from March 17, 2012 through April 23, 2012. Will only return to conduct limited business.
Note: This is the first week where redistricting updates will be made here in the State Legislative Tracker.
On April 5, the Alaska Redistricting Board approved a pair of revised legislative maps. One is the revised redistricting map. The other is an interim plan approved in case the revised plan is rejected by the courts or the DOJ. The interim map is quite similar to the original, overturned map.
- The current map can be found here.
- The original redistricting map can be found here.
- The interim map can be found here.
- The revised map can be found here.
|Maps submitted for vote: 135 out of 142 (95.1%)**||No votes on initial maps in the following: AL (2), KS (1), ME (2), MT (2)|
|States that have completed Congressional Maps||41/43 (Maps unfinished: KS, NH)|
|States that have completed State Legislative Maps||45/50 (Maps unfinished: AL, KS, ME, MS, MT)|
|**With 50 states, there are 142 possible maps. 50 State Senate, 49 State House (No House in Nebraska), and 43 Congressional (7 states have 1 seat)|
Hawaii Rep. Mark Takai (R) and several non-resident military personnel have filed a federal lawsuit over the revised redistricting map. In revising the redistricting map, the Hawaii Reapportionment Board removed 100,000 non-residents from their calculations. These revision were ordered by the Hawaii Supreme Court following a state lawsuit.
- The petition in the lawsuit can be found here.
On March 23, a three-judge panel dismissed a challenge to the Michigan House redistricting plan. The challenge, brought by a group of labor and civil rights organizations, argued that plan illegally dilluted minority voting strength in the Detroit area.
The next meeting of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission has been set for Thursday. While leaders have not said there is a new deal, they are expecting a new preliminary plan to be voted on. If one passes, the public would have 30 days to comment on it. Following the state Supreme Court’s rejection of the initial plan by the commission some two months ago, this year’s elections are going forward under the maps passed following the 2000 census.
Next week, the Vermont House will debate its chamber redistricting plan. A preliminary plan received nearly unanimous support, but differences have since emerged over the districts in and around Burlington, Vermont.
A group of Wyoming citizens has filed a lawsuit challenging the state's legislative redistricting plans. They argue that the plans do not give sparsely populated counties adequate representation.
A total of 86 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 6, 2012.
1,267 (64.3%) of the country's 1,971 state senate seats are up for re-election in November 2012, and 4,712 (87.05%) of the country's 5,413 state house seats are up for re-election. Altogether, 5,984 (81.0%) of the country's 7,384 state legislative seats will be up for re-election during the presidential election year.
- 43 of the 50 state senates are holding elections.
- 43 of the 49 state houses are holding elections.
The 5,984 seats up for election is 146 fewer than the 6,125 that were contested in 2010.
So far, deadlines have passed in 24 states:
- Illinois – December 5, 2011
- Ohio - December 7, 2011
- West Virginia - January 28
- Kentucky – January 31
- Indiana – February 10
- Nebraska - February 15 (incumbents), March 1 (non-incumbents)
- Pennsylvania - February 16
- North Carolina - February 29
- Arkansas - March 1
- Oregon - March 6
- California - March 9
- Idaho – March 9
- Texas - March 9
- Montana - March 12
- Maine - March 15
- Iowa - March 16
- Nevada - March 16
- Utah - March 16
- New Mexico - March 20
- Missouri - March 27
- South Dakota - March 27
- South Carolina - March 30
- Colorado - April 2
- Tennessee - April 5
States with upcoming deadlines:
- April 13: North Dakota, Oklahoma
- May 7: Florida
- May 15: Michigan House of Representatives
- May 18: Washington
- May 25: Georgia
- May 30: Arizona
- See also: 2012 election dates
There are no state legislative primaries this week.
So far, primaries have taken place in two states:
A total of five state legislative incumbents have been defeated in a primary.
States with upcoming primaries:
- April 24: Pennsylvania
- May 8: Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia
- May 15: Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon
- May 22: Arkansas, Kentucky
- May 29: Texas
- June 5: California, Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota
- Note: Texas was originally scheduled to hold their primary on March 6. However, with newly drawn state legislative maps being fought in the courts, the date was moved to May 29.
- Currently, 18 states permit the recall of state officials. Between 1913 and 2008, there were just 20 state legislative recall elections in five states. Of the 20 state legislative recall elections, 13 out of 20 resulted in the state legislator being recalled. In 2011, there were 11 state legislative recalls in three states, 4 of which resulted in the legislator being recalled. In 2012, there are currently 4 scheduled state legislative recalls.
2011 saw a wave of recall attempts in Michigan. While most of those efforts dried up, at least two campaigns are continuing on (the recall of Paul Scott was successful on November 8, 2011). Organizers of the campaigns to recall Bruce Caswell (R) and Phil Pavlov (R) are aiming for the August 2012 ballot.
Organizers of the Pavlov recall announced they would stop collecting signatures this week and see if they have the 20,466 necessary to make the ballot.
Democrats in Wisconsin filed recall petitions on November 15, 2011 against four Republican state senators - Pam Galloway, Scott Fitzgerald, Terry Moulton and Van Wanggaard. Campaign organizers turned in more than the necessary number of signatures in each of the four races on January 17, 2012. Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess signed an agreement scheduling primaries for May 8 with general elections on June 5. If there is no primary the general election takes place on May 8.
In late March, state Republican Party officials announced plans to run Democratic candidates in all four recall primaries in order to ensure primaries in all races, which then guarantees all recalls will take place on the same day. Candidates need to submit 400 valid signatures by tomorrow in order to be on the ballot.
Because Wisconsin has an open primary system, voters do not have to be registered to a specific party in order to cast a vote in the primary. Therefore, Republican-leaning voters can cross over to the Democratic primary and vice-versa. Republicans used the same maneuver last year during the recall elections of six GOP state senators. The "fake" or "protest" candidates were all defeated in the primary, receiving between 29 and 44 percent of the vote.
Matchups currently stand as follows:
- Sen. Van Wanggaard is being challenged by former Democratic state Sen. John Lehman and Andrew Mielke, whom little is known about. Tamra Varebrook has been identified as the "fake" Democrat in the race and is running as a protest candidate.
- Sen. Scott Fitzgerald is being challenged by Democrat Lori Compas, an organizer of the recall. Republican Gary Ellerman said he will be entering the race as a fake Democrat but will not actively campaign.
- Sen. Terry Moulton is being challenged by former Democratic state legislator Kristen Dexter. James Engel has been identified as the "fake" Democrat in the race and is running as a protest candidate.
- Sen. Pam Galloway resigned, but the recall against her continues as scheduled. It is currently a fight between state Reps. Jerry Petrowski (R) and Donna Seidel (D). James Buckley has been identified as the "fake" Democrat in the race and is running as a protest candidate.
There is one special elections scheduled to take place this week in Minnesota.
- John Schultz 947
- Lyle Koenen 1874 
- Gregg Kulberg
- Leon Greenslit
General election candidates:
Upcoming special elections include:
- April 10: Minnesota Senate District 20
- April 24: Pennsylvania House District 22
- April 24: Pennsylvania House District 134
- April 24: Pennsylvania House District 153
- April 24: Pennsylvania House District 169
- April 24: Pennsylvania House District 186
- April 24: Pennsylvania House District 197
- July 10: South Carolina Senate District 41
- July 24: South Carolina House District 68
- State legislative elections, 2012
- 2012 state legislative calendar
- Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 state government elections
- State legislative special elections, 2012
- State legislative recalls
- KTUU, "Special Session Likely As Lawmakers Battle with Oil Tax Reform," April 6, 2012
- The Roanoke Times, "Budget requires special session," March 11, 2012
- The Cavalier Daily, "Special session decides budget," April 9, 2012
- Washington Post, "Budget talks resume in special session with little expected as legislature’s popularity slides," March 21, 2012
- Washington Post, "Virginia Senate approves state spending plan," March 26, 2012
- Seattle Times, "Wash. Legislature adjourns; special session called," March 9, 2012
- Komo News, "Special session: Gov threatens vetoes over budget stalemate," March 17, 2012
- The Spokesman Review, "Special Session Day 18: Bill signings yes; budget deal, maybe," March 29, 2012
- The News Tribune, "Another special session?" March 29, 2012
- The Seattle Times, "WA Senate passes bills seen as part of budget deal," April 7, 2012
- StateScape, Session schedules, accessed April 9, 2012
- The Times Herald, "Phil Pavlov recall winding down as 2nd effort vs. Rick Snyder begins," April 3, 2012
- FOX 6 Now, "Recall paperwork filed Tuesday for four senators, including Van Wanggaard," November 15, 2011
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Recall votes set for May 8 and June 5," March 14, 2012
- Channel 3000, "GOP Plans To Run Democratic Candidates In 4 Recall Races," March 30, 2012
- Caledonia Patch, "GOP's Official Protest Candidate Files Papers for the 21st District," April 3, 2012
- Daily Union, "Ellerman running as a protest candidate," April 2, 2012
- The Republic, “Wisconsin Republicans name fake Democrats for recall primaries,” April 4, 2012
- WQOW, ""Fake Democrat" files to run in 29th Senate District," April 4, 2012
- Independent, "Kubly laid to rest in Granite Falls," March 8, 2012
- West Central Tribune, "Minn. governor announces special election to fill late senator’s seat," March 8, 2012
- MinnPost, "Rep. Koenen wins DFL primary to run in special election for Kubly's Senate seat," March 28, 2012