State Legislative Tracker: Nevada legislator expelled

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April 1, 2013

Edited by Joel Williams
This week's tracker takes a look at some controversial bills and the expulsion of a state legislator.

Weekly highlight

As of today, 49 states have kicked off 2013 sessions. Here is some news making headlines across state legislatures this week:

  • Maryland: The Maryland State Legislature is currently considering a bill endorsed by Gov. Martin O'Malley to allow residents to register and vote on the same day during early voting. The bill would also extend early voting from six to eight days, and create an investigative panel to find a solution for long voting wait times on election day. A point of contention in the legislation is language that would allow absentee voters to receive ballots online instead of through the mail. This pleases advocates for voters with disabilities, but technology experts are concerned the system could be exploited en masse and jeopardize the integrity of the system.[1]
  • Missouri: The House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee recently passed two separate bills looking to change the way the sex offender registry works in the state. The first, sponsored by Don Phillips, would remove minor offenses from the registry and allow almost a third of the 14,000 currently on the list to petition for removal in the next 20 years. Dave Hinson's bill would allow every offender to eventually petition for removal with a time table based on individual psychological assessments. Republican leaders will decide which piece of legislation to present to the full House.[2]
  • Nevada: Rep. Steven Brooks (D) became the first member expelled from the Nevada House of Representatives on March 28.[3] The process began on March 26 with a special bipartisan subcommittee voting to recommend his expulsion 6-1. The only representative to vote no, Dina Neal, said she preferred suspension over expulsion.[4] Following his expulsion, Brooks was arrested following a fifteen-mile high speed chase with police and charged with forcefully resisting an officer, evading arrest, throwing objects from a motor vehicle, and harming a police dog.[5] This follows two previous arrests in January and February 2013.


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As of today, April 1, 2013, the following figures represent the cumulative partisan breakdown of the 50 state senates and 49 state houses. In the 50 states, Republicans currently control 51.7% of all seats while Democrats hold 46.9%. All told, Republicans control 57 chambers while Democrats are the majority in 40 chambers. One chamber is tied, while one is non-partisan.


Representation in 50 State Legislatures
Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state legislators 3,462 46.9%
Republican state legislators 3,821 51.7%
Independent (and non-partisan) state legislators 68 0.91%
Third party (and non-voting) legislators 11 0.15%
Vacancies 30 0.40%

State Senates

The partisan composition of state senates refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in the state senate. Altogether, in the 50 state senates, there are 1,971 state senators.

As of April 1, 2013, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

See also: Partisan composition of state houses

Cumulative numbers

As of April 1, 2013, 1,919 state senators are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state senators 895 45.2%
Republican state senators 1,024 51.5%
Non-partisan state senators 49 2.47%
Independent state senators 4 0.2%
Third Party state senators 2 0.1%
Vacancies 9 0.45%

Vacancies

There are 7 state senate vacancies in 5 states as of April 1, 2013.

State Vacancies
Alabama 1
California 2
Massachusetts 1
Michigan 1
Nevada 2

Independents

There are 6 state senators in 5 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Representative as of April 1, 2013. They are as follows:

State Independents/Third Party
Alabama 1 (Independent)
Kentucky 1 (Independent)
Maine 1 (Independent)
Rhode Island 1 (Independent)
Vermont 2 (Vermont Progressive Party)

State Houses

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 1, 2013, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

  • Democratic Party 20 chambers
  • Republican Party 29 chambers

Cumulative numbers

As of April 1, 2013, 5,368 state representatives are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state representatives 2,574 47.6%
Republican state representatives 2,794 51.6%
Independent state representatives 15 0.26%
Third party (and non-voting) representatives 9 0.17%
Vacancies 21 0.38%

Vacancies

There are 21 state house vacancies in 11 different states as of April 1, 2013. They are as follows:

State Vacancies
Alabama 2
California 1
Massachusetts 3
Mississippi 2
Missouri 2
Nevada 1
New Hampshire 3
Oklahoma 2
Pennsylvania 3
Texas 1
Wisconsin 1

Independents

There are 24 state representatives in 10 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Representative as of April 1, 2013. They are as follows:

State Independents/Third Party
Arizona 1 (Independent)
Arkansas 1 (Green)
Georgia 1 (Independent)
Louisiana 2 (Independent)
Maine 6 (2 non-voting Native American representatives, 4 Independent)
Michigan 1 (Independent)
South Dakota 1 (Independent)
Tennessee 1 (Carter County Republican)
Vermont 9 (5 Vermont Progressive Party, 4 Independent)
Virginia 1 (Independent)

Regular sessions

Current sessions capture for the week of April 1, 2013
See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2013 session information.

Currently 35 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. One state, California, is meeting in special session concurrent with their regular session. One state has yet to begin its 2013 sessions. Louisiana will convene April 8.

The following states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions:[6]

The following states have ended their regular session:

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
April 1, 2013
There are 7,384 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,462 (46.9%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,821 (51.7%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 40
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 57
Total tied or non-partisan chambers 2
2013 Session Information
Total Special Elections 25
Total Special Sessions 1

There is one special session ongoing this week in California. Virginia's special session on Judicial Appointments is scheduled to convene April 4.

California

During his State of the State address on January 24, Gov. 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 for several months.[7][8]

In recess

As of today, April 1, 7 states' sessions are currently in recess:

Redistricting Roundup.jpg

State news

Redistricting Facts
Maps submitted for vote: 138 out of 142 (97.2%)** No votes on initial maps in the following: ME (2), 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 Montana

See also: Redistricting in Montana

A group of registered voters in Fergus and Wheatland counties filed suit over the most recent redistricting plan. The plan assigned Brad Hamlett (D) to the new Senate District 15 for the final two years of his term, even though he does not live in the district. It also allowed Llew Jones (R) to run for re-election in District 9, though in the initial plan he was forced out by Rick Ripley (R) being assigned to his district. This situation is similar to one a decade ago, where constituents were assigned a Democrat senator living outside of their district for the final two years of his term. James Regnier, chair of the Districting and Apportionment Commission, said that the practice of assigning holdover senators to new districts creates a situation where some voters do not elect a new senator for six years.[10][11]

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 are 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.[12]

  • 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 is $352.80.[13]

Primaries

The state primaries are as follows:

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

See also: State legislative special elections, 2013

There are six taking place this week: two in Massachusetts, one in Mississippi, two in Missouri, and one in Wisconsin.

Massachusetts House of Representatives 12th Essex

Just weeks after her re-election, state Rep. Joyce Spiliotis (D) died on November 29, 2012. A special election to fill the seat has been scheduled for April 2, with a primary on March 5. Leah Cole defeated Gregory S. Bunn in the Republican primary and will advance to the general election.[14][15]

General election candidates:

Democratic Party Beverly A. Griffin Dunne
Republican Party Leah Cole
Independent Dave Gravel

Massachusetts House of Representatives 28th Middlesex

State Rep. Stephen Smith (D) resigned on December 31, 2012, after pleading guilty to casting invalid absentee ballots in 2009 and 2010. A special election to fill the seat has been scheduled for April 2, with a primary on March 5. Wayne A. Matewsky defeated four others in the Democratic primary and will advance to the general election.[16][17]

General election candidates:

Democratic Party Wayne A. Matewsky
Independent Rosa DiFlorio
Independent Dennis John Gianatassi

Mississippi House of Representatives District 36

Longtime Rep. David Gibbs (D) died in office on January 13, 2013. A special election to fill the vacancy will be held March 12, 2013. Candidates had until February 11 to file. As no candidate won 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters - Karl Gibbs and Eddie Longstreet - will meet in a run-off election on April 2. Special elections in Mississippi are non-partisan.[18][19][20]

Independent April 2 runoff candidates:

Missouri House of Representatives District 76

Chris Carter (D) resigned his seat in the Missouri House of Representatives after he was elected to succeed his uncle on the St. Louis board of aldermen. A special election to fill the vacancy will be held on April 2.[21][22]

General election candidates:
Democratic Party Joshua Peters

Missouri House of Representatives District 157

Don Ruzicka (R) resigned his seat in the Missouri House of Representatives after he was appointed to the Board of Probation and Parole by Gov. Jay Nixon. A special election to fill the vacancy will be held on April 2.[21][23]

General election candidates:
Democratic Party Charles Dake
Republican Party Mike Moon

Wisconsin State Assembly District 98

Assemblyman Paul Farrow (R) was the only candidate running in the December 4, 2012 special election for the District 33 seat in the Wisconsin State Senate. Thus, Farrow easily took the seat and resigned his District 98 Assembly seat. A special election to replace him has been called for April 2, 2013. A primary, if necessary, will take place February 19.[24][25][26][27]

General election candidates:
Republican Party Adam Neylon

Recent results

March 26, 2013

RunoffArrow.jpgMississippi House of Representatives District 11
Rep. Joe Gardner (D) died in office on February 4, 2013. A special election to fill the vacancy was held March 26, 2013. As no candidate took more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters - Anderson Boothe and Lataisha M. Jackson - will meet in a runoff election on April 16. Special elections in Mississippi are non-partisan.[28][29]

Independent General election candidates:

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • April 2: Massachusetts House of Representatives 12th Essex
  • April 2: Massachusetts House of Representatives 28th Middlesex
  • April 2: Missouri House of Representatives District 76
  • April 2: Missouri House of Representatives District 157
  • April 2: Wisconsin State Assembly District 98
  • April 9: Alabama House of Representatives District 97
  • May 7: Alabama House of Representatives District 11
  • May 7: Michigan State Senate District 27

See also

References

  1. washingtonpost.com, "Md. lawmakers near agreement on early voting bill," March 30, 2013
  2. stltoday.com, "Missouri considering changing its sex offender registry rules," April 1, 2013
  3. abcnews.com, "Nevada Assembly Ousts Embattled Steven Brooks," March 28, 2013
  4. abcnews.com, "Historic Expulsion Vote Pending in Nevada Assembly," March 27, 2013
  5. huffingtonpost.com, "Steven Brooks Arrested Hours After Nevada Expulsion," March 29, 2013
  6. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed March 25, 2013
  7. Los Angeles Times, "Gov. Jerry Brown calls for special session of Legislature on healthcare," January 24, 2013
  8. Sacramento Business Journal, " Health care reform special session starts," January 28, 2013
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 State Scape, "Session schedules," accessed April 1, 2013
  10. greatfallstribune.com, "Group sues over redistricting amendment," March 26, 2013
  11. mtstandard.com, "Central Montana voters sue to invalidate portion of redistricting plan," March 25, 2013
  12. New Jersey Department of State, "Petition filing instruction sheet," Accessed January 14, 2013
  13. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidacy Requirements for House of Delegates," Accessed January 16, 2013
  14. TheRepublic.com, "Candidates set for special elections to fill 2 vacant Mass. House seats," March 7, 2013
  15. Peabody Patch, "Special Election to Choose Spiliotis' Successor Unlikely to be Set Until 2013," November 30, 2012
  16. TheRepublic.com, "Candidates set for special elections to fill 2 vacant Mass. House seats," March 7, 2013
  17. Boston Herald, "Lawmaker in voting scandal quits office," January 1, 2013
  18. The Republic, "Bryant sets March 12 special election for Gibbs' successor in Miss. House, with runoff April 2," January 28, 2013
  19. Clarion Ledger "Senate D36 candidates qualified," February 13, 2013
  20. SunHerald.com, "2 advance to runoff after House special election," March 12, 2013
  21. 21.0 21.1 CBS St. Louis, "Nixon Sets Elections for Vacant Mo. House Seats," January 17, 2013
  22. sos.mo.gov, "Missouri Secretary of State," Accessed April 1, 2013
  23. KTTS, "Candidates Named In Special House Election," February 6, 2013
  24. Sussex Patch, "Strong Interest in 98th Assembly District Race," November 19, 2012
  25. FOX6Now, "Gov. Walker calls special election to fill vacancy," December 17, 2012
  26. Agri-View, "Another election is just around the corner," January 17, 2013
  27. sussex.patch.com, "Adam Neylon Wins 98th Assembly District Primary," February 19, 2013
  28. SunHerald.com, "5 on ballot in House District 11 election," March 1, 2013
  29. wjtv.com, "2 in runoff in House District 11 election," March 27, 2013