State Legislative Tracker: California legislative turnover continues

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July 8, 2013

Edited by Joel Williams
This week’s tracker takes a look at how California's term limits affect special election frequency and other legislative controversies.

Weekly highlight

Last week, Rhode Island ended its legislative sessions. Here is a brief look at issues making headlines across the country:

  • California: Two state legislators resigned on July 1 after winning election to the Los Angeles City Council. Bob Blumenfield (D) left behind his seat in the California State Assembly representing District 45, a position he was first elected to in 2008. Also vacant is the California State Senate District 26 seat held by Curren Price (D) since 2009. Both seats will be filled by special elections on September 17, 2013. Democrats are projected to be heavy favorites in both races, as they maintain a near two-to-one advantage in registered voters in those districts. Critics believe these vacancies are created in part by California's state legislative term limits, which cause legislators to seek new positions near the end of their term. Both Blumenfield and Curren would have been term limited in 2014 and ineligible to run for election. This practice of seat-hopping by term-limited legislators is under scrutiny as these two new elections will bring the total for California special elections to 10 in 2013. Voter turnout in special elections is low, with turnout for the May 14 special election reaching only ten percent, while costing the state $2.4 million. Although California is currently experiencing a budget surplus, it may still look to address this problem in the future.[1][2][3]
  • Nevada: With legislation still in the balance as the Nevada legislature reached its session deadline at midnight on Tuesday, Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) called members back before dawn for a short special session, the first since 2007 and the 27th in state history. Despite a lack of sleep, the legislature passed all five bills on Tuesday morning. One bill allows Clark County commissioners to raise sales and use taxes in order to hire police officers. Another provides $2.5 billion over the next two years to reduce class sizes in public schools. Other bills increase the funding to the state's Millennium Scholarship, give tax benefits to new or expanded businesses, and make changes in the administration of the state's charter school loan account. A blame game ensued over why business was not finished Monday night, with some charging conference committees with errors between them, and others such as Sen. Tick Segerblom (D) citing lengthy tributes to termed-out Republican colleagues Sen. Barbara Cegavske and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who himself appeared to hint that time was running short by pointing at his watch. Some, including Sen. Peter Goicoechea (R), blamed the leadership's inexperience; none of its members had closed a session previously. Costs of the brief session were quoted by the Legislative Council Bureau at $25,000. The conclusion of the special session marks the end of a tumultuous legislative year in which Assemblyman Steven Brooks (D) became the first Nevada lawmaker to be expelled, and Sen. Kelvin Atkinson came out as gay during an impassioned debate on same-sex marriage.[4][5][6][7]
  • New Jersey: Last week State Senator Stephen Sweeney (D), the current President of the Senate, announced the end of a month and a half long blockade of Republican legislation. The blockade stemmed from the ongoing feud between Sweeney and Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean (R), and from an event that took place in the New Jersey State Senate this past May. On the day that the blockade began, a Democratic bill was scheduled for a vote but required an amendment due to a drafting error. Sweeney needed Kean to agree to an emergency vote so that the bill could be passed that same day, but Kean refused, and so began the ban. Sweeney's immediate response was to remove seven Republican bills from discussion on the Senate floor.[8] Throughout the blockade, Sweeney refused to call votes on all Republican sponsored legislation in the Senate. Since the blockade has ended, one of the focuses of the upcoming summer session in the New Jersey State Legislature will be to address the dormant Republican sponsored legislation.[9] While the blockade may have ended, Kean said of his relationship with Sweeney and on the end of the ban that, "...Given his actions before this ban, I’m not naïve enough to think Senator Sweeney will start posting a fair share of Republican initiatives, but even just a select few reforms can make a real difference in people’s lives."[10] The blockade may have ended, but the feud between Sweeney and Kean has not.
  • Virginia: Amidst a growing scandal regarding undeclared gifts received by Governor Bob McDonnell (R) from a top donor, Virginia State Senator Chap Petersen (D) of Fairfax City called on McDonnell to explain the situation or resign. Petersen presented his request in the form of a letter sent to the governor and copies to the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and President of the Senate Bill Bolling (R), Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R), and senior Senator Charles Colgan (D). An investigation, started by The Washington Post, suggests that McDonnell received undeclared large gifts from a donor and supporter of his political campaign, including a $6,500 watch and $15,000 worth of catering at McDonnell's daughter's wedding. McDonnell also aided the individual donor by supporting the donor's company through high-profile events. In his letter, Petersen called the governor's perceived behavior "unacceptable" and wrote to the governor that "[i]f you are unable to explain (or deny) these reports or return the items, then I humbly suggest that you should step down as Governor," urging him to "come clean on this matter." In response, McDonnell's office noted that these gifts were to relatives of McDonnell and not directly to the governor himself, and called some of the allegations in the media inaccurate. In recent days, McDonnell has received counsel from a high-profile Washington, DC lawyer who represented two past presidential administrations.[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19]

Regular sessions

Current sessions capture for the week of July 8, 2013
See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2013 session information.

Currently 8 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. Three states: California, Texas, and Washington are meeting in special session.

As of April 8, all states states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions.[20]

The following states have ended their regular session:[21]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
July 8, 2013
There are 7,384 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,459 (46.8%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,827 (51.8%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 40
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 57
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 2
2013 Session Information
Total Special Elections 43
Total Special Sessions 9

There are two special sessions ongoing this week in California and Texas. The West Virginia State Legislature held a one-day special session on April 17 to finish remaining business from the regular session.[22] The Mississippi State Legislature held a one-day special session on April 26 to approve incentives for a foreign tire maker to open a plant in the state.[23] The Arizona State Legislature held a brief special session this week concurrently with the end of their regular session, primarily to pass a budget that included Medicaid expansion.[24][25] Mississippi held a two-day special session to approve Medicaid funding and reauthorization.[26]


During his State of the State address on January 24, Governor Jerry Brown (D) called for the Legislature to hold a special session concurrent with the regular session in order to bring the state in compliance with the federal Affordable Care Act. The special session began January 28 and is expected to last until May 30.[27][28] As of June 11, 2013, four of the six major bills being considered by the legislature have not been finalized.[29]


Governor Rick Perry (R) called the legislature back into special session to work on an abortion bill after Sen. Wendy Davis (D) led an 11-hour filibuster to prevent its passing in time for the close of the first special session. Also affected by the filibuster and expected to be discussed are bills relating to transportation and juvenile justice.[30]

In recess

As of today, July 8, there are 3 state legislatures currently in recess:[31]

Redistricting Roundup.jpg

State news

Redistricting Facts
Maps submitted for vote: 140 out of 142 (98.6%)** No votes on initial maps in the following: MT (2)
States that have completed Congressional Maps 42/43 (Maps ordered redrawn: TX)
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 45/50 (Maps unfinished: ME, MT; Maps ordered redrawn: AK, KY, TX)
**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)
See also: Status of redistricting maps after the 2010 census

While the great majority of states have completed their redistricting following the 2010 census, the issue still remains for a handful of states. Maine and Montana are not required to have their maps completed until 2014. Alaska, Kentucky and Texas, however, saw their maps rejected for legal reasons and will have to take up the drawing of maps once again.

Redistricting in Delaware

See also: Redistricting in Delaware

The Delaware State Senate approved a bill that would create an 11-member redistricting commission by a vote of 13-7. Current elected officials and recent lobbyists or elected officials would be barred from serving on the commission, which would take redistricting out of the Delaware General Assembly's hands. With the close of this year's legislative session, it is likely that this measure met the same fate as it did last year: dying in the Delaware State House.[32]

See also: State legislative elections, 2013

A total of 3 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 5, 2013.

The 3 chambers with elections in 2013 are in 2 states. They are:

Louisiana and Mississippi also typically hold elections in odd years. However, legislators are elected to 4-year terms in those states and those will not be up for election again until 2015.

40 of the country's 1,972 state senate seats are up for re-election in November 2013, and 180 of the country's 5,411 state house seats are up for re-election. Altogether, 220 of the country's 7,383 state legislative seats are up for re-election on November 5, 2013.

Signature filing deadlines

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2013 state legislative elections

The state legislative filing deadlines were as follows:

  • New Jersey:
  • April 1, 2013 (Major party)
  • June 4, 2013 (Independent)

Nomination petitions must contain the signatures of at least 100 voters in the legislative district. Candidates are required to disclose any criminal convictions.[33]

  • Virginia:
  • March 28, 2013 (Major party)
  • June 11, 2013 (Independent)

Nomination petitions must contain the signatures of at least 125 qualified voters in the legislative district. Major party candidates are required to submit a primary filing fee equal to 2% of the annual salary for the office sought in effect in the year in which the candidate files. In 2013, the primary filing fee was $352.80.[34]


The state primaries were as follows:

  • New Jersey:
  • June 4, 2013
  • Virginia:
  • June 11, 2013


New Jersey had a quiet election, with all competing incumbents winning their primaries.

There were only three hotly contested races, all in the Senate, but none resulted in the ousting of an incumbent:[35]

Republican PartyDistrict 13: Incumbent Joe Kyrillos, Jr. defeated challenger Leigh-Ann Bellew.
Democratic PartyDistrict 20: Incumbent Raymond Lesniak defeated challenger Donna Obe.
Democratic PartyDistrict 34: Incumbent Nia H. Gill defeated challengers Mark C. Alexander and Vernon Pullins, Jr..

Virginia experienced two upsets in an otherwise quiet day of primaries for the House of Delegates. Voter turnout was expected to fall below 5 percent based on projections at polling locations.[36]

Virginia's legislative primaries yielded a pair of defeats for incumbent legislators. The defeated incumbents were supporters of a recently passed transportation bill that increases sales and gas taxes to improve roadways.[37][38] The successful challengers lodged primary challenges in part to protest the bill's passage, which they called the biggest tax increase in the state's history.[39]

Republican Party Mark J. Berg defeated Beverly Sherwood in District 29.
Republican Party Dave A. LaRock defeated Joe T. May in District 33.

Five incumbents were able to fend off primary challenges in Tuesday's primaries:

Republican Party C. Todd Gilbert defeated Mark W. Prince in District 15.
Republican Party Bill Howell defeated Craig E. Ennis in District 28.
Republican Party Bobby Orrock defeated Dustin R. Curtis in District 54.
Democratic Party Roz Dance defeated Evandra D. Thompson in District 63.
Democratic Party Algie Howell defeated Richard James in District 90.
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See also: State legislative special elections, 2013

There is no special election taking place this week. The next one is scheduled for July 23 in California.

Recent results

June 25, 2013

CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Massachusetts House of Representatives 8th Suffolk
Shortly after being sworn in for a 5th term, Martha Walz (D) announced she was resigning to head the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. A special election was called for June 25.[40] A primary took place on May 28, which Jay D. Livingstone won. Livingstone was unopposed in the special election on June 25. Candidates had until April 23 to file certified nomination papers with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.[41][42][43]

June 25 Special election candidates:

Democratic Party Jay D. Livingstone Green check mark transparent.png

CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Kentucky House of Representatives District 56
Rep. Carl Rollins, II (D) resigned on April 24 to take a job with the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority. A special election was called for June 25. Candidates were chosen by party leaders instead of in primaries.[44][45][46][47]

June 25 General election candidates:

Democratic Party James L. Kay II Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Lyen Crews
Independent John-Mark Hack

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • July 23: California State Senate District 16
  • July 23: California State Assembly District 52
  • August 6: Virginia State Senate District 14
  • August 6: New York House of Representatives District 86
  • September 10: Massachusetts House of Representatives 6th Bristol District
  • September 10: Massachusetts House of Representatives 12th Suffolk District
  • September 10: Massachusetts House of Representatives 16th Worcester District

See also


  1., "Special elections set for Asssembly, Senate seats are costly, draw few voters," July 4, 2013
  2., "Two California legislators quit," July 1, 2013
  3., "California budget surplus creates unlikely dilemma," May 26, 2013
  4. Associated Press, "Nevada lawmakers pass 5 bills in special session," June 4, 2013.
  5. Nevada Media Alliance, "Legislators Finish Five Bills in Brief Special Session," June 4, 2013.
  6. KVVU-TV, "Bills passed in brief special NV legislative session," June 4, 2013.
  7. Reno Gazette-Journal, "Nevada Legislature analysis: Gov. Brian Sandoval calls overtime," June 4, 2013.
  8. "," "Feud between N.J. Senate leaders boils over, " May 20, 2013
  9. "," "No Summer Recess for NJ Legislature, " July 4, 2013
  10. "," "Sweeney to lift blockade of Republican bills, " July 3, 2013
  11. The Virginian-Pilot, "Va. legislator calls on Gov. Bob McDonnell to resign," July 2, 2013
  12. The Washington Post, "Virginia Democrat to Gov. McDonnell: Explain gifts or resign," July 2, 2013
  13. The Washington Post, "Letter from state Sen. J. Chapman Petersen," July 2, 2013
  14. Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Democratic senator to McDonnell: ‘come clean’ on gifts or resign," July 3, 2013
  15. The Associated Press, "Democratic senator urges Va. governor to ‘come clean’ about gifts or resign," July 2, 2013
  16. U.S. News and World Report, "Va. Legislator Becomes First to Demand Gov. Bob McDonnell Resign," July 2, 2013
  17. WUSA9, "Virginia State Senator Chap Petersen Calls For Governor Bob McDonnell To Resign If He Can't Explain Gifts," July 3, 3013
  18. Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Washington lawyer Flood counsels McDonnell on probe," July 4, 2013
  19. The Washington Post, "Va. Gov. McDonnell on two-way street with chief executive of struggling company," March 30, 2013
  20. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed July 8, 2013
  21. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed July 8, 2013
  22. West Virginia Legislature, "2013 1st Special Session," Accessed June 1, 2013
  23., "Mississippi lawmakers pass incentives for tire maker," April 26, 2013
  24. Arizona Capitol Times, "Lawmakers prepare to adjourn as Medicaid expansion moves toward approval," June 11, 2013
  25. The Associated Press, "Arizona Senate ends special session after passing GOP Gov. Brewer’s budget, Medicaid expansion," June 12, 2013
  26., "Bryant calls Medicaid special session for Thursday (updated)," June 24, 2013
  27. Los Angeles Times, "Gov. Jerry Brown calls for special session of Legislature on healthcare," January 24, 2013
  28. Sacramento Business Journal, " Healthcare reform special session starts," January 28, 2013
  29. California Medical Association, "Special session bills continue to work through Legislature," June 11, 2013
  30., "Perry calls lawmakers back to work on abortion bill," June 27, 2013
  31., "Daily Session Summary," accessed June 24, 2013
  32., "Del. Senate Approves Redistricting Reform," June 21, 2013
  33. New Jersey Department of State, "Petition filing instruction sheet," Accessed January 14, 2013
  34. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidacy Requirements for House of Delegates," Accessed January 16, 2013
  35. "Polls close in 2013 N.J. primary elections as votes are tallied," June 4, 2013
  36. Washington Post, "Voter turnout sparse for down-ticket races in Virginia," June 11, 2013
  37. CBS DC, "Virginia Primary Results Roll In," June 11, 2013
  38., "Howell’s transportation PAC helping candidates," June 7, 2013
  39. WRIC, "Virginia Primary Round Up," June 11, 2013
  40. Boston Globe, "State Rep. Martha Walz to lead Planned Parenthood," January 30, 2013
  41. "Dates set for special election to replace state Rep. Marty Walz," February 7, 2013
  42., "Special State Primary Candidates - Eighth Suffolk State Representative District," accessed May 14, 2013
  43., " Where Do I Vote on Beacon Hill Today?," June 25, 2013
  44., "Special Election First Test Of Military Voting Law," April 28, 2013
  45., "Democrats choose Woodford party leader to run for vacant Central Kentucky House seat," April 29, 2013
  46., "Kentucky Republicans choose Lyen Crews to run in special election for House 56th District seat," May 1, 2013
  47., "Democrat wins special House election in Kentucky," June 25, 2013