Vermont State Senate
|Vermont State Senate|
|2015 session start:||January 7, 2015|
|Website:||Official Senate Page|
|Senate President:||Phillip Scott (R)|
|Majority Leader:||Philip Baruth (D)|
|Minority Leader:||Joe Benning (R)|
Democratic Party (20)
Republican Party (9)
|Length of term:||2 years|
|Authority:||Legislative Department, Sec. 6, Vermont Constitution|
|Salary:||$604.79/week + per diem|
|Last Election:||November 4, 2014 (30 seats)|
|Next election:||November 8, 2016 (30 seats)|
|Redistricting:||Vermont legislature has control|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 Elections
- 4 Redistricting
- 5 Senators
- 6 Senate Committees
- 7 History
- 8 External links
- 9 References
Senators in Vermont serve two-year terms, rather than the more standard four-year terms.
Vermont senators have no term limits.
As of March 2015, Vermont is one of 7 Democratic state government trifectas.
The Vermont State Legislature, which the Senate is a part of, 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 2015 state legislative sessions
In 2015, the Legislature will be in session from January 7 - mid-May .
Major issues for the 2015 legislative session are expected to include the budget, the clean-up of Lake Champlain, energy concerns, education reform to stem the growth of property taxes, and reforms to the state's child welfare system.
- See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 7 through May 10.
Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included improving integration of environmental regulation with comprehensive planning, affordable health care, tourism funding, workforce training, a tax policy that does not increase taxes on businesses, and a labor policy to not increase costs to employers.
- 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 Senate was in session from January 3 through May 5.
- See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions
In 2011, the Senate was in session from January 5 through mid May.
- See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions
Role in state budget
- See also: Vermont state budget and finances
- Budget instructions are sent to state agencies in September of the year preceding the start of the new fiscal year.
- Agencies submit their budget requests to the governor in October.
- Agency hearings are held from October through December.
- The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature in January.
- The legislature typically a budget in May. A simple majority is required to pass a budget. The fiscal year begins July 1.
In Vermont, the governor cannot exercise veto authority over the budget.
The governor is not legally required to submit, and the legislature is not legally required to pass, a balanced budget.
The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 indicating that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis, while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. The challenges states faced included a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Vermont was one of 29 states with mixed results regarding the frequency and effectiveness in its use of cost-benefit analysis.
Ethics and transparency
Following the Money report
- See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending. According to the report, Vermont received a grade of A- and a numerical score of 90, indicating that Vermont was "leading" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.
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.
- See also: Vermont State Senate elections, 2014
Elections for the office of Vermont State Senate took place in 2014. A primary election took place on August 26, 2014. The general election was held on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was June 12, 2014.
- See also: Vermont State Senate elections, 2012
The signature filing deadline for the elections was June 14, 2012.
- See also: Vermont State Senate elections, 2010
Elections for the office of Vermont State Senate were held in Vermont on November 2, 2010. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was July 19, 2010, and the primary Election Day was on September 14, 2010.
In 2010, the candidates for state senate raised a total of $670,068 in campaign contributions. The top 10 donors were:
|2010 Donors, Vermont State Senate|
|Fox, Sally G||$10,700|
|Campaign Research Center||$7,500|
|Green Mountain Republican Senate Cmte||$7,300|
|Contributions by Candidate or Immediate Family||$5,369|
|Blittersdorf, David C||$5,000|
|Galbraith, Alan J||$5,000|
- See also: Vermont State Senate elections, 2008
Elections for the office of Vermont State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 9, 2008, and a general election on November 4, 2008.
During the 2008 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $422,775. The top 10 contributors were:
|2008 Donors, Vermont State Senate|
|Contributions By Candidate Or Immediate Family||$9,667|
|Green Mountain Republican Senate Cmte||$9,500|
|Caledonia County Republican Cmte||$5,700|
|Franklin County Republicans||$5,500|
|Carris, William H||$5,250|
|Home Builders & Remodelers Association Of Northern Vermont||$4,400|
|Vermont Association Of Realtors||$4,200|
- See also: Vermont State Senate elections, 2006
Elections for the office of Vermont State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 12, 2006, and a general election on November 7, 2006.
During the 2006 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $744.527. The top 10 contributors were:
|2006 Donors, Vermont State Senate|
|Vermont Republican Party||$9,667|
|Caledonia County Republican Cmte||$6,900|
|Stewart, John C||$5,500|
|Green Mountain Republican Senate Cmte||$5,500|
|Home Builders & Remodelers Of Vermont||$5,000|
|Bennington County Republican Cmte||$4,400|
|Broughton, Lenore F||$4,200|
- See also: Vermont State Senate elections, 2004
Elections for the office of Vermont State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 14, 2004, and a general election on November 2, 2004.
During the 2004 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $836,383. The top 10 contributors were:
|2004 Donors, Vermont State Senate|
|Vermont Republican Party||$72,677|
|Contribution By Candidate Or Candidates Immediate Family||$14,740|
|Doyle, William (Bill)||$8,000|
|Flanagan, Edward S||$7,438|
|Vermont Ski Areas Association||$6,600|
|Democracy For America||$5,700|
|Republican Senate Majority Cmte 2004||$5,400|
- See also: Vermont State Senate elections, 2002
Elections for the office of Vermont State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 10, 2002, and a general election on November 5, 2002.
During the 2002 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $771,524. The top 10 contributors were:
|2002 Donors, Vermont State Senate|
|Vermont Republican Party||$52,400|
|Democratic National Cmte||$20,500|
|Vermont Senate Victory||$13,500|
|Carris, Barbara T||$11,610|
|Hogan, Art & Helen||$8,420|
|Rutland County Republican Cmte||$7,000|
|Vermont Ski Areas Association||$5,450|
|National Republican Legislators Association||$5,100|
|Vermont Fund For Families||$5,039|
- See also: Vermont State Senate elections, 2000
Elections for the office of Vermont State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 12, 2000, and a general election on November 7, 2000.
During the 2000 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $924,978. The top 10 contributors were:
|2000 Donors, Vermont State Senate|
|Republican National State Elections Cmte||$62,000|
|Engelberth, Otto A||$36,278|
|Democratic National Cmte||$35,000|
|Republican National Cmte||$28,500|
|Giuliani, J Paul||$14,591|
|Republican National Cmte||$12,000|
|Vermont Ski Areas Association||$6,250|
The Vermont Constitution states, "No person shall be elected a Representative or a Senator until the person has resided in this State two years, the last year of which shall be in the legislative district for which the person is elected."
| How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures |
If there is a vacancy in the senate, the Governor must select a replacement to fill the vacant seat.
The Governor must select a replacement that will serve for the remainder of the unexpired term. There are no deadlines set by statute on when a vacancy has to be filled.
- 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.
- See also: Partisan composition of state senates
|Party||As of March 2015|
|Vermont Progressive Party||1|
The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Vermont State Senate from 1992-2013.
The Senate is headed by the State's Lieutenant Governor as the Senate President. The Senate President only votes in the case of a tie. More often, the Senate is presided over by the President Pro Tempore who also serves as head of the Majority Party.
|Current Leadership, Vermont State Senate|
|President of the Senate||Phillip Scott||Republican|
|President Pro Tempore of the Senate||John Campbell||Democratic|
|State Senate Majority Leader||Philip Baruth||Democratic|
|State Senate Assistant Majority Leader||Claire Ayer||Democratic|
|State Senate Minority Leader||Joe Benning||Republican|
|State Senate Assistant Minority Leader||William T. Doyle||Republican|
List of current members
The Vermont Senate has 12 standing committees:
- Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs
- Government Operations
- Health and Welfare
- Natural Resources and Energy
Partisan balance 1992-2013
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.
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 had 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 Senate official website
- Official list of Vermont State Senators
- Permanent rules of the Vermont senate
- U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
- Wilson Ring, The Washington Times, "Budget likely to top 2015 Vermont Legislature," January 4, 2015
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar," December 19, 2011
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "2010 Legislative Sessions Calendar," December 8, 2010
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
- Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
- U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Vermont Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions," accessed August 2, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Vermont 2008 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Vermont 2006 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Vermont 2004 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Vermont 2002 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Vermont 2000 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
- usconstitution.net, "Vermont Constitution," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Section 15)
- Vermont State Legislature, "Vermont Statutes," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Statute, 2-1-4, Vermont Statutes)
- 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
- 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
- Vermont State Legislature, "Officers of the Vermont General Assembly 2009-2010," accessed August 2, 2014
State of Vermont
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