Vermont State Legislature

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Vermont State Legislature

Seal of Vermont.png
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   None
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:   $636/week + per diem
Last Election:  November 6, 2012
30 seats (Senate)
150 seats (House)
Next election:  November 4, 2014
Redistricting:  Vermont Legislature has control
The Vermont General Assembly is the state legislature of Vermont. The Legislature is formally known as the "General Assembly," but the title of "Legislature" is commonly used, including by the body itself [1]. The Legislature is a bicameral assembly, consisting of the 150-member Vermont House of Representatives and the 30-member Vermont State Senate.

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. In 2012, the Legislature was in session from January 3 through May 5.


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 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Legislature was in session from January 3 through May 5.

Major issues

The two main issues facing the legislature are dealing with an estimated $75 million budget gap and finding ways to pay for recovery from Tropical Storm Irene.[1]


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Legislature was in session from January 5 through mid May. [2]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Legislature was in session from January 5 to May 12.[3]


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.


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.[4] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 20,294.[5] 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.

Current make-up

Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 20
     Republican Party 9
     Vermont Progressive Party 1
Total 30

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.[6] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 4,059.[7] Representatives are elected to a two year term without term limits.

Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 85
     Republican Party 53
     Vermont Progressive Party 6
     Independent 6
Total 150


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).

2010 census

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.[8]

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 2012, members of the Vermont Legislature are paid $604.79 per a vote (to reduce the salary by 5% this biennium below the statutory level). Legislators who are non-commuters receive $101/day for lodging and $61/day for meals. Commuters receive $61/day for meals/mileage.[9]

The $604.79/vote that Vermont legislators are paid as of 2011 is a decrease from the $636.62/week they were paid during legislative sessions in 2010 and $600.78/week in 2007. Per diem has increased from $88/day lodging and $51/day for meals in 2007 to $101/day lodging and $61/day meals in 2010 and is the same in 2011.[10][11]


Vermont does not provide pensions for legislators.[12]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Vermont legislators assume office the first Wednesday after the first Tuesday in January.

Standing committees

In its 2011-2012 session, the Vermont State Legislature has thirteen joint standing committees:

External links