Vermont State Legislature
|Vermont State Legislature|
|2015 session start:||January 9, 2013|
|Website:||Official Legislature Page|
|Senate President:||Phillip Scott (D)|
|House Speaker:||Shap Smith (D)|
|Majority Leader:|| Bill Carris (D) (Senate),|
Lucy Leriche (D) (House)
|Minority Leader:|| William Doyle (R) (Senate),|
Donald Turner, Jr. (R) (House)
|Members:||30 (Senate), 150 (House)|
|Length of term:||2 years (Senate), 2 years (House)|
|Authority:||Section 7 of the Legislative Department of the Vermont Constitution|
|Salary:||$604.79/week + per diem|
|Last Election:||November 6, 2012 |
30 seats (Senate)
150 seats (House)
|Next election:||November 4, 2014|
|Redistricting:||Vermont Legislature has control|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 Senate
- 4 House of Representatives
- 5 Redistricting
- 6 Legislators
- 7 Standing committees
- 8 History
- 9 External links
- 10 References
Members of the House are elected by single and two-member districts. 66 districts choose one member, and 42 choose two, with the term of service being two years. The Senate includes 30 Senators, elected by 13 multi-member districts.
The Vermont General Assembly meets at the State House in Montpelier.
As of April 2015, Vermont is one of 7 Democratic state government trifectas.
The Vermont State Legislature meets for biennial sessions starting on odd numbered years on the first Wednesday after the first Monday in January, pursuant to Section 7 of the Legislative Department of the Vermont Constitution. The opening date for even numbered years is established by the sitting legislature during the year prior.
- See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
In 2014, the Legislature is projected to be in session from January 8 through May 1.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 9 through May 14.
Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included addressing a projected budget shortfall of $50-$70 million, physician assisted death, and marijuana decriminalization.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
In 2012, the Legislature was in session from January 3 through May 5.
- See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions
In 2011, the Legislature was in session from January 5 through mid May. 
- See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions
Legislative elections are held in November of every even-numbered year. Representatives and Senators serve two-year terms. One must be a resident of the state for the two years, and of the legislative district for the one year, immediately preceding the election in order to qualify for either house.
The House is headed by the Speaker of the House, while the Senate is headed by the State's Lieutenant Governor as the Senate President. The Senate President has only a casting vote. More often, the Senate is presided over by the President Pro Tempore, or temporary President.
The Legislature is empowered to make law, subject to the Governor's power to veto a bill. However, the veto may be overridden by the Legislature if there is a two-thirds majority in favor of overriding in each House.
The Legislature has the sole power to propose amendments to the Vermont Constitution. An amendment must originate in the Senate, where it must receive a two-thirds vote. After passing the Senate, it must also receive a majority vote in the House. Any amendment that passes both Houses, must be repassed by majority votes, after a newly elected legislature is seated; again, first in the Senate, then in the House. The proposed amendment must then be passed by a majority of the state's voters at a referendum. Only every other Senate session may initiate the amendment process. Thus, Senates elected in off-year (i.e. non-Presidential) elections may initiate amendments, but not Senates elected during Presidential elections. (Vermont Constitution, Chapter 2, Section 72)
The role of third parties
The General Assembly is notable for being the only state legislature in the United States with a significant third-party presence. Six members of the House belong to the Vermont Progressive Party, a center-left party similar to the Social Democratic Party of Germany or the Social Democratic Party of Finland (SDP). Several other parties that have won legislative seats include the Green Party, and the Liberty Union Party, based largely on the philosophy of Eugene V. Debs. Some members of the smaller parties caucus with members of the Vermont Democratic Party.
Ethics and transparency
Open States Transparency
The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Vermont was given a grade of B 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.
The Vermont Senate is the upper house of the Vermont General Assembly. The Senate consists of 30 members. Senate districting divides the 30 members into three single-member districts, six two-member districts, three three-member districts, and one six-member district. Each member represents an average of 20,858 residents, as of the 2010 Census. After the 2000 Census, each member represented 20,294. There is no limit to the number of terms that a Senator may serve.
As in other upper houses of state and territorial legislatures and the federal U.S. Senate, the Senate is reserved with special functions such as confirming or rejecting gubernatorial appointments to executive departments, the state cabinet, commissions, boards, and electing members to the Vermont Supreme Court.
Senators are elected from a total of 13 single and multi-member Senate districts. The districts more or less correspond to the boundaries of the state's 14 counties with adjustments to ensure equality of representation. Two small counties (Essex and Orleans) are combined into one district. Each district elects between 1 and 6 senators depending on population.
In addition, Vermont is one of the 14 states where the upper house of its state legislature serves at a two-year cycle, rather than the normal four-year term as in the majority of states.
|Party||As of April 2015|
|Vermont Progressive Party||1|
The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Vermont State Senate from 1992-2013.
House of Representatives
The Vermont House of Representatives is the lower house of the Vermont General Assembly, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Vermont. The House comprises 150 members. Vermont legislative districting divides representing districts into 66 single-member districts and 42 two-member constituencies. Each member represents an average of 4,172 residents, as of the 2010 Census. After the 2000 Census, each member represented 4,059. Representatives are elected to a two year term without term limits.
|Party||As of April 2015|
|Vermont Progressive Party||6|
The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Vermont State House from 1992-2013.
- See also: Redistricting in Vermont
The Vermont Legislative Apportionment Board is tasked with drawing redistricting maps, but the Legislature must approve -- and can revise -- any plans. The Board is made up of a chairperson selected by the Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court, and six members, two from each of the major parties (Democratic, Republican, Progressive).
Vermont received its census data on February 10, 2011. The state grew by 2.8 percent. The most populous cities had mixed results: Burlington grew by 9.1 percent, Essex grew by 5.2 percent, South Burlington grew by 13.2 percent, Colchester grew by 0.5 percent, and Rutland decreased by 4.6 percent.
The 2011 redistricting process was notable for a push to eliminate nearly all of the state's multi-member districts. Though a preliminary plan that achieved this end was passed by the Board, its final plan from August 11, 2011 only reduced the number of two-member districts from 42 to 29.
The Legislature took up redistricting in January 2012. Despite disagreements over deviation from ideal district size (18.2 percent for the Senate and 24 percent for the House), the Senate passed and the House concurred with a final plan, H. 789. The plan added a new seat in Burlington, and paired incumbents Dennis Devereux (R) and Eldred French (D). Governor Peter Shumlin (D) signed the maps into law on May 1, 2012.
- See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries
As of 2013, members of the Vermont Legislature are paid $604.79/week during session and $112/day for special sessions or interim committee meetings. Legislators who are non-commuters receive $101/day for lodging and $61/day for meals. Commuters receive $61/day for meals/mileage.
Vermont does not provide pensions for legislators.
When sworn in
Vermont legislators assume office the first Wednesday after the first Tuesday in January.
In its 2011-2012 session, the Vermont State Legislature has thirteen joint standing committees:
- Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules
- Joint Fiscal
- Joint Rules
- Legislative Council
- Corrections Oversight
- Government Accountability
- Health Access Oversight
- Judicial Retention
- Judicial Rules
- Legislative Information Technology
- Mental Health Oversight
- Transportation Oversight
Partisan balance 1992-2013
Vermont Senate: From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Vermont State Senate for 18 years while the Republicans were the majority for four years. The Vermont State Senate is 1 of 16 state senates that was Democratic for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. Vermont was under Democratic 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.
Vermont House: From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Vermont State House of Representatives for 17 years while the Republicans were the majority for five years. Vermont was under Democratic trifectas for the final three years of the study.
Across the country, there were 577 Democratic and 483 Republican State Houses of Representatives 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 the Vermont 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. During the course of the study, Vermont had Democratic trifectas from 1997-2000 and from 2011-2013. Its lowest ranking, finishing 33rd, occurred in 2008 during a divided government. Its highest ranking, finishing 15th, also occurred during a divided government from 2003-2004.
- Vermont General Assembly
- The Vermont Constitution
- Government of Vermont portal
- Wikipedia: Vermont General Assembly
- Boston.com, "2013 Vt. legislative session to get under way," January 6, 2013
- 2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar, NCSL
- 2010 session dates for Vermont Legislature
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- Population in 2010 of the American states
- Population in 2000 of the American states
- Population in 2010 of the American states
- Population in 2000 of the American states
- U.S. Census Bureau, "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Vermont's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting," February 10, 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
- NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
- USA Today, "State-by-state: Benefits available to state legislators," September 23, 2011