State Legislative Tracker: In addition to primaries, Pennsylvania to hold 6 special elections tomorrow
Edited by Greg Janetka
- 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
- April 9: Maryland State Legislature
- April 12: Kentucky State Legislature
- April 16: Alaska State Legislature
- April 18: Nebraska State Legislature
- Click here to see a chart of each state's 2012 session information.
| Snapshot of State Legislatures: |
Monday, April 16, 2012
|There are 7,384 Total State Legislators|
|Total Democratic state legislators||3,303 (44.7%)|
|Total Republican state legislators||3,967 (53.7%)|
|There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers|
|Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers||36|
|Total Republican Party-controlled chambers||58|
|Total tied or non-partisan chambers||5|
|2012 Session Information|
|Total Special Elections||19|
|Total Special Sessions||9|
In 2011, special sessions were a widespread occurrence in state legislatures. This was largely due to states' having to complete the redistricting process for legislative and congressional districts. Overall in 2011, there were 45 special sessions in 28 states.
Since the beginning of 2012, there have been 9 special sessions in 6 states. Two are ongoing.
Gov. Sean Parnell (R) called for a special session last week following the end of the Legislature's regular session in order to deal with unresolved issues, including oil taxes, an in-state natural gas pipeline project and strengthening penalties for people convicted of sex trafficking. On April 18, it got off to a slow start, as both the House and Senate passed a resolution to bring back a sex-trafficking measure and an in-state gas line bill that died during the regular session. The trafficking bill has passed both chambers, but other issues are ongoing. Jessica Geary, finance manager of the Legislative Affairs Agency, estimated that each day of the special session costs the state up to $30,000.
The Kentucky Legislature wrapped up a five-day special session last Friday, reaching an agreement on a transportation budget and a bill targeting prescription drug abuse. Gov. Steve Beshear (D) ordered the special session last week so lawmakers could take up the two major bills that died during the regular session. The session cost approximately $300,000.
Maryland might hold a special session in order to deal with unfinished budget issues, but Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) said he will only call one if legislative leaders agree that there will not be another stalemate. The General Assembly passed a budget before the regular session adjourned, but measures related to the budget stalled. Among these is a tax plan to balance the budget. Without one in place, a "doomsday plan" of $512 million in cuts will take effect.
Last Tuesday, House Republicans announced their support for the state's approved budget, set to start July 1, while calling on Democratic leaders not to hold the special session. Republicans said the $512 million in cuts is not a doomsday scenario but rather a good start in limiting spending. The governor is expected to meet with Democratic leaders tomorrow to discuss the possibility of a special session.
The Virginia General Assembly reconvened its special session last week in an attempt to pass a budget. 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.
The Senate passed an $85 billion budget plan on Wednesday, sending it to the governor for review. The previous day saw a stalemate in the chamber over funding to extend the metro train system to Dulles International Airport. The governor has seven days to sign or veto the plan. The session is projected to adjourn on Friday.
As of today, April 23, 6 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.
- Maine - In recess from April 14 until May 13.
- 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
- Pennsylvania - In recess April 5 until April 30.
- Wisconsin - In recess from March 17, 2012 through April 23, 2012. Will only return to conduct limited business.
On April 20, Judge Michael McConahy of Alaska's Fourth District Superior Court struck down the state Redistricting Board's revised map. He found that the plan still fails to ensure compliance with the Alaska Constitution. Earlier this year, McConahy and (upon appeal) the Alaska Supreme Court overturned Board's original plan. The Board will hold a public meeting on April 24 to consider an appeal.
|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)|
The Vermont State Senate has approved legislative redistricting maps for the House and Senate. However, disagreements still persist between the two chambers over the maps. The plans now head to a House-Senate conference committee where lawmakers hope to iron out their differences. Regardless of a legislative compromise, some worry that the high population deviations (18.2% for the Senate, 24% for the House) will prompt a legal challenge against the maps.
- The Senate-approved Senate plan can be found here.
- The Senate-approved House plan can be found here.
Despite saying that the Republican-drawn maps "have largely been vindicated" by the court, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) has now appealed the three-judge panel's decision regarding the two Assembly districts the panel ordered to be redrawn. The appeal goes directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, who is required to take the case.
Democrats called the move unnecessary and expensive. Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D) asked, "Does their appetite for wasting taxpayer money on protecting their own political interests ever end? It must be the first time in history anyone has appealed their 'vindication' to the Supreme Court."
In response to criticism, Van Hollen said, "While some view the adverse portion of the district court decision as being inconsequential, I disagree. Any time a federal court rejects a state redistricting statute, and decides to redraw or adjust a legislative district, it is a serious matter and appropriate for appellate review."
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 election in November 2012, and 4,712 (87.05%) of the country's 5,413 state house seats are up for election. Altogether, 5,979 (81.0%) of the country's 7,384 state legislative seats will be up for 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 5,979 seats up for election is 146 fewer than the 6,125 that were contested in 2010.
No states have signature filing deadlines this week.
So far, deadlines have passed in 26 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
- North Dakota - April 13
- Oklahoma - April 13
States with upcoming deadlines:
- May 7: Florida
- May 15: Michigan House of Representatives
- May 18: Washington
- May 25: Georgia
- May 30: Arizona
- See also: 2012 election dates
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 continued 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) set their sights on the August 2012 ballot, but earlier this month organizers of the Pavlov recall announced they did not have enough signatures and were abandoning their efforts. The Caswell campaign remains active.
Proposed recall petition language was submitted last week targeting Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R). The man behind the move is Jeff Andring, a fellow Republican and former chairman of the Monroe County Republican Party. The language says Richardville should be recalled for cosponsoring legislation that benefited the brother of the state GOP chair, supporting a right-to-work law only affecting public school teacher unions, and supporting a proposed bridge to Canada.
Andring explained the campaign, saying, "I've always been critical of his policies because Randy's a liberal Republican and I'm a conservative Republican. Randy's a nice guy, but I disagree with his policies and it's time to say enough is enough." The Monroe County elections commission will meet May 2 to vote on the proposed recall language.
Recalls are scheduled against four state senators. The primary will take place on May 8 with general elections on June 5.
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.
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. 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.
Candidates in the recalls had until April 10 to file to get on the ballot, and the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board held a special meeting April 17 to consider challenges to the candidates and certify ballot access. Democrats filed a complaint against all of the protest candidates, arguing they knowingly gave false information on documents submitted to election officials, but that was rejected by GAB, allowing them to stay on the ballot. Republicans are not mincing words when it comes to their intentions behind the fake candidates, as State Rep. Robin Vos openly said "We are encouraging Republicans to vote in the Democratic primaries."
Matchups for the recalls are as follows:
- Sen. Van Wanggaard is being challenged by former Democratic state Sen. John Lehman. 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, and Libertarian Terry Virgil. Republican Gary Ellerman entered the race as a fake Democrat but said he 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 are six special elections scheduled to take place this week in Pennsylvania. House Speaker Sam Smith (R) initially maintained that he was legally prohibited from scheduling the special elections until the state had established new legislative redistricting maps. However, on February 29, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that the special elections could not wait and set the April 24 date. Party ward leaders nominated candidates for the election.
Dennis O'Brien (R) resigned after being elected to the Philadelphia City Council in November 2011.
Kenyatta Johnson (D) resigned after being elected to the Philadelphia City Council in November 2011.
Upcoming special elections include:
- 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
- Coshocton Tribune, "Governor calling special session on 3 issues," April 16, 2012
- Anchorage Daily News, "No hurry-up in Juneau as special session gets under way," April 19, 2012
- Daily News Miner, "Special session costs Alaska 'up to $30,000 a day'," April 20, 2012
- WKYU, "Special Session Opens in Frankfort; Lawmakers Hope to Complete Work in Five Days," April 16, 2012
- The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky special session ends with passed transportation budget, pill mill bill," April 20, 2012
- Gazette.Net, "O’Malley: No special session without consensus," April 13, 2012
- The Washington Times, "Maryland GOP backs budget, tells Democrats to drop special session," April 17, 2012
- Washington Times, "Top Md. Democrats divided over gambling," April 22, 2012
- Washington Post, "More than a month late, Virginia legislators will again consider state budget," April 14, 2012
- The Roanoke Times, "Budget requires special session," March 11, 2012
- Reuters, "Virginia legislature approves $85 bln budget," April 18, 2012
- StateScape, Session schedules, accessed April 23, 2012
- KTUU, "Fairbanks Judge Rejects Revised Redistricting Plan," April 20, 2012
- Achorage Daily News, "Alaska judge rejects latest redistricting plan," April 20, 2012
- Burlington Free Press, "Vermont Senate endorses redistricting plans," April 20, 2012
- VT Digger, "Senate moves ahead with House redistricting plan," April 20, 2012
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Van Hollen appeals redistricting ruling to U.S. Supreme Court," April 19, 2012
- The Times Herald, "State Sen. Phil Pavlov recall fails," April 13, 2012
- MLive, "Sen. Randy Richardville is recall target of fellow Republican," April 18, 2012
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Recall votes set for May 8 and June 5," March 14, 2012
- FOX 6 Now, "Recall paperwork filed Tuesday for four senators, including Van Wanggaard," November 15, 2011
- Channel 3000, "GOP Plans To Run Democratic Candidates In 4 Recall Races," March 30, 2012
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "GAB Special Board Meeting," accessed April 16, 2012
- The Northwestern, "Democrats challenge fake Dems on recall ballots," April 12, 2012
- Real Clear Politics, "GOP hoping cross over voting affect recalls," April 22, 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
- Philadelphia Enquirer, "Six Pennsylvania House seats to be filled in April," March 1, 2012
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Allegheny County controller Chelsa Wagner resigns House seat," January 16, 2012
- Reading Eagle, "Democrats pick House candidate for Reichley seat," March 7, 2012
- Philly Burbs, "Shapiro to resign House seat," December 9, 2011
- Philly.com, "Elections ordered for 6 vacant House seats," March 1, 2012