Difference between revisions of "Virginia State Senate"

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In 2010, the Senate was [[Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions| in session]] from January 13 to March 13.<ref>[http://dls.virginia.gov/pubs/calendar/cal2010_2.pdf 2010 session dates for Virginia legislature]</ref>
In 2010, the Senate was [[Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions| in session]] from January 13 to March 13.<ref>[http://dls.virginia.gov/pubs/calendar/cal2010_2.pdf 2010 session dates for Virginia legislature]</ref>
==Ethics and transparency==
{{Transparency card|State=Virginia|Grade=A}}
{{Transparency card|State=Virginia|Grade=A}}

Revision as of 22:24, 8 July 2013

Virginia State Senate

Seal of Virginia.svg.png
General Information
Type:   Upper house
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   January 9, 2013
Website:   Official Senate Page
Senate President:   Bill Bolling, (R)
Majority Leader:   Thomas Norment (R)
Minority Leader:   Dick Saslaw, (D)
Members:  40
   Democratic Party (19)
Republican Party (21)
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:   Art IV, Section 2, Virginia Constitution
Salary:   $18,000/year + per diem
Last Election:  November 8, 2011 (40 seats)
Next election:  November 3, 2015 (40 seats)
Redistricting:  Virginia legislature has control
Meeting place:
Richmond virginia capitol.jpg
The Virginia Senate is the upper house of the Virginia General Assembly. There are 40 state senators representing 40 single-member districts. Each member represents an average of 200,026 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[1] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 176,963 residents.[2] The Lieutenant Governor of Virginia presides over the Virginia Senate.

Virginia senators serve four-year terms with no term limits.

Virginia state senate elections are held in odd-numbered years on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. All senate seats are up for election simultaneously; that is, unlike in many states with four-year senate terms, Virginia senate districts do not have staggered elections. The most recent state senate election was held November 6, 2007. State senators elected in November 2007 were sworn in in January 2008 and their terms expire in January 2012. The next state senate election date was November 8, 2011.

The Virginia Senate holds regular sessions of 60 days duration during even-numbered years and 30 days duration during odd numbered years. The length of these sessions can be extended by a two-thirds vote of both houses.

As of May 2015, Virginia is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.


Article IV of the Virginia Constitution establishes when the Virginia General Assembly, of which the Senate is a part, is to be in session. Section 6 of Article IV states that the General Assembly is to convene annually on the second Wednesday in January. In even-numbered years, regular sessions are limited to sixty days. In odd-numbered years, regular sessions are limited to thirty days. Section 6 allows the General Assembly to extend its regular sessions by thirty days if two-thirds of each house vote to extend the session.

Section 6 allows the Governor of Virginia to convene special sessions of the General Assembly. Section 6 also allows for a special session to be called when it is requested by two-thirds of the members of each house.


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the General Assembly was in session from January 9 through February 25.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included abortion, education, transportation, gun control, and ending a ban on uranium mining.[3]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Senate was in regular session from January 11 through March 10.[4]


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Legislature was in regular session from January 12 through February 27. On February 27, a special redistricting session was convened. A reconvened session will begin on April 6 at 12 p.m. to consider any Governor's amendments and/or vetoes to legislation passed by the General Assembly. This is the only business that can occur during the reconvened session. [5]

A second special session convened June 9 and lasted through July 29. The session was called to elect judges to the state Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.[6]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Senate was in session from January 13 to March 13.[7]

Ethics and transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Virginia was given a grade of A 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.[8]



Senators must be at least 21 years of age at the time of the election, residents of the district they represent, and qualified to vote for members of the Virginia General Assembly.[9]


See also: Virginia State Senate elections, 2011

Elections for the office of Virginia's state senators were held in Virginia on November 8, 2011.


As of the 2000 Census, Virginia's 40 state senators each represent an average population of 176,963 people. In 2007, the candidates for state senate raised a total of $31,534,141 in campaign contributions.

Year Number of candidates Total contributions
2007 77 $31,534,141
2003 69 $11,439,328

The top 10 donors were:[10]


See also: How vacancies are filled in state legislatures
How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures
NevadaMassachusettsColoradoNew MexicoWyomingArizonaMontanaCaliforniaOregonWashingtonIdahoTexasOklahomaKansasNebraskaSouth DakotaNorth DakotaMinnesotaIowaMissouriArkansasLouisianaMississippiAlabamaGeorgiaFloridaSouth CarolinaIllinoisWisconsinTennesseeNorth CarolinaIndianaOhioKentuckyPennsylvaniaNew JerseyNew YorkVermontVermontNew HampshireMaineWest VirginiaVirginiaMarylandMarylandConnecticutConnecticutDelawareDelawareRhode IslandRhode IslandMassachusettsNew HampshireMichiganMichiganAlaskaVacancy fulfillment map.png

If there is a vacancy in the Virginia Senate, then a special election must be conducted to fill the vacant seat[11]. Within 15 days of the vacancy, the governing body of the county or city that represents the seat must petition to a circuit court to hold a special election. All special elections must be held promptly[12]. No special election can be held with less than 60 days remaining in the vacant Senator's term or less than 55 days before a statewide primary or general election[13].


See also: Redistricting in Virginia

The General Assembly handles redistricting through the passage of maps as regular legislation subject to gubernatorial veto.

2010 census

Virginia received its local census data on February 3, 2011. The state grew by 13 percent from 2000 to 2010; its growth mostly occurred in the northeastern part of the state, while declines ranging up to -13.4 percent occurred in counties along the southern and western edges. Loudoun County stood out with an 84.1 percent increase. Growth in the largest cities was less generous: Virginia Beach grew by 3.0 percent, Norfolk grew by 3.6 percent, Chesapeake grew by 11.6 percent, Richmond grew by 3.2 percent and Newport News grew by 0.3 percent.[14]

The Assembly was split going into redistricting; Republicans controlled the House, and Democrats controlled the Senate. The House set a 1% standard for allowance of deviation from the ideal district size (88,900 people), while the Senate passed a 2% standard (200,000 being the ideal size). The Senate and House reached a verbal agreement that the houses would draw their own lines and not interfere with the other's.

The House and Senate approved their maps on April 6 and 7, 2011, respectively. While the House had an overwhelming 86-8 vote, the Senate went along party lines 22-18. Governor Bob McDonnell vetoed the maps on April 15, citing concerns about the increase in the number of divided communities, the Senate plan's higher deviation standard, and the partisan vote in the Senate.

The House quickly returned and passed revisions that rejoined several divided districts; Senate Democrats initially would not budge, but the chamber eventually worked out a compromise (passing on a 32-5 vote) that split Virginia Beach, reduced the number of splits in Prince William County, and split the College of William & Mary from Thomas Norment's district. McDonnell signed the revised plan on April 29, 2011.



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the Virginia State Senate are paid $18,000/year . Senators receive $178/day per diem tied to the federal rate.[15]

When sworn in

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

Virginia legislators assume office the second Wednesday in January after the election.

Partisan composition

See also: Partisan composition of state senates
Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 19
     Republican Party 21
Total 40

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Virginia State Senate from 1992-2013.

Partisan composition of the Virginia State Senate.PNG


The Lieutenant Governor serves as presiding officer of the Senate. In the event of the lieutenant governor's absence, the President pro tempore becomes presiding officer. The President pro tempore is elected by the Senate.[16]

Current leadership

Current Leadership, Virginia State Senate
Office Representative Party
President of the Senate Bill Bolling Ends.png Republican
President Pro Tempore of the Senate Walter Stosch Ends.png Republican
State Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment Ends.png Republican
State Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw Electiondot.png Democratic

List of current members

Current members, Virginia State Senate
District Senator Party Assumed office
1 John Miller Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
2 Mamie Locke Electiondot.png Democratic 2004
3 Thomas Norment Ends.png Republican 1992
4 Ryan McDougle Ends.png Republican 2006
5 Kenny Alexander Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
6 Ralph Northam Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
7 Frank Wagner Ends.png Republican 2002
8 Jeffrey McWaters Ends.png Republican 2010
9 Donald McEachin Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
10 John Watkins Ends.png Republican 1998
11 Stephen Martin Ends.png Republican 1994
12 Walter Stosch Ends.png Republican 1992
13 Richard Black Ends.png Republican 2012
14 Harry Blevins Ends.png Republican 2001
15 Frank Ruff Ends.png Republican 2000
16 Henry Marsh Electiondot.png Democratic 1992
17 Bryce Reeves Ends.png Republican 2012
18 Louise Lucas Electiondot.png Democratic 1992
19 Ralph Smith Ends.png Republican 2008
20 Bill Stanley Ends.png Republican 2011
21 John Edwards Electiondot.png Democratic 1996
22 Thomas Garrett Ends.png Republican 2012
23 Stephen Newman Ends.png Republican 1996
24 Emmett Hanger Ends.png Republican 1996
25 Creigh Deeds Electiondot.png Democratic 2001
26 Mark Obenshain Ends.png Republican 2004
27 Jill Vogel Ends.png Republican 2008
28 Richard Stuart Ends.png Republican 2008
29 Charles Colgan Electiondot.png Democratic 1976
30 Adam Ebbin Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
31 Barbara Favola Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
32 Janet Howell Electiondot.png Democratic 1991
33 Mark Herring Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
34 Chap Petersen Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
35 Dick Saslaw Electiondot.png Democratic 1980
36 Toddy Puller Electiondot.png Democratic 1999
37 Dave Marsden Electiondot.png Democratic 2010
38 Phillip Puckett Electiondot.png Democratic 1998
39 George Barker Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
40 Bill Carrico Ends.png Republican 2012

Standing committees

The Virginia Senate has 11 standing senate committees. They are:[17]


Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Virginia
Partisan breakdown of the Virginia legislature from 1992-2013

From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Virginia State Senate for eight years while the Republicans were the majority for 12 years. Virginia was under Republican trifectas for the final two 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 have divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Virginia, the Virginia State Senate and the Virginia House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Virginia state government(1992-2013).PNG

External links