Virginia State Senate

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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 December 2012, Virginia is one of 24 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 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Senate was in regular session from January 11 through March 10.[3]


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. [4]

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.[5]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Senate was in session from January 13 to March 13.[6]



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.[7]


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:[8]


See also: How vacancies are filled in state legislatures
How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures
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If there is a vacancy in the Virginia Senate, then a special election must be conducted to fill the vacant seat[9]. 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[10]. 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[11].


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.[12]

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 2010, members of the Virginia Senate are paid $18,000/year. Senators receive $169/day per diem tied to the federal rate.[13]

The $18,000/year that Virginia senators are paid as of 2010 is the same as they were paid during legislative sessions in 2007. Per diem has increased from $140/day in the Senate in 2007 to $169/day in 2010.[14]

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 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.[15]

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

Photo credit.

District Senator Party Counties in District
1 John Miller Electiondot.png Democratic Hampton(part), Newport News(part), Poquoson, York County(part)
2 Mamie Locke Electiondot.png Democratic Hampton(part), Newport News(part), Portsmouth(part), Suffolk(part)
3 Thomas Norment Ends.png Republican Gloucester County, James City County, New Kent County, Newport News(part), Williamsburg, York County(part)
4 Ryan McDougle Ends.png Republican Caroline County, Essex County, Hanover County, King and Queen County, King William County, Middlesex County, Spotsylvania(part)
5 Kenny Alexander Electiondot.png Democratic Chesapeake(part), Norfolk(part), Virginia Beach(part)
6 Ralph Northam Electiondot.png Democratic Accomack County, Mathews County, Norfolk(part), Northampton, Virginia Beach(part)
7 Frank Wagner Ends.png Republican Virginia Beach(part)
8 Jeffrey McWaters Ends.png Republican Virginia Beach(part)
9 Donald McEachin Electiondot.png Democratic Charles City County, Henrico County(part), Richmond(part)
10 John Watkins Ends.png Republican Amelia County, Chesterfield(part), Cumberland(part), Goochland County(part), Henrico County(part), Powhatan County, Richmond
11 Stephen Martin Ends.png Republican Chesterfield County(part), Colonial Heights
12 Walter Stosch Ends.png Republican Goochland(part), Henrico County(part), Richmond(part)
13 Richard Black Ends.png Republican Chesapeake(part), Franklin(part), Hopewell(part), Isle of Wight County(part), Portsmouth(part), Prince George County(part), Southampton County(part), Suffolk(part), Surry County
14 Harry Blevins Ends.png Republican Chesapeake(part), Virginia Beach(part)
15 Frank Ruff Ends.png Republican Amherst(part), Appomattox, Brunswick County(part), Buckingham County(part), Charlotte County, Cumberland County(part), Fluvanna, Halifax County, Lunenburg County(part), Mecklenburg County, Prince Edward County
16 Henry Marsh Electiondot.png Democratic Chesterfield County(part), Dinwiddie County, Hopewell(part), Petersburg, Prince George County(part), Richmond(part)
17 Bryce Reeves Ends.png Republican Culpeper, Fredericksburg(part), Louisa County, Madison County, Orange County, Spotsylvania County(part)
18 Louise Lucas Electiondot.png Democratic Brunswick County(part), Chesapeake(part), Emporia, Franklin(part), Greensville County, Isle of Wight County(part), Lunenburg County(part), Nottoway County, Portsmouth(part), Southampton County(part), Suffolk(part), Sussex County
19 Ralph Smith Ends.png Republican Campbell County(part), Danville, Franklin, Pittsylvania
20 Bill Stanley Ends.png Republican Carroll, Floyd County, Galax, Grayson(part), Henry County, Martinsville, Wythe(part)
21 John Edwards Electiondot.png Democratic Craig County, Giles, Montgomery County(part), Pulaski(part), Roanoke, Roanoke County(part)
22 Thomas Garrett Ends.png Republican Botetourt County, Montgomery County(part), Radford, Roanoke, Roanoke County(part), Salem
23 Stephen Newman Ends.png Republican Amherst County(part), Bedford, Bedford County, Campbell County(part), Lynchburg
24 Emmett Hanger Ends.png Republican Albemarle County(part), Augusta County, Greene County, Highland County, Lexington, Rockbridge County(part), Rockingham County(part), Staunton, Waynesboro
25 Creigh Deeds Electiondot.png Democratic Albemarle County(part), Alleghany County, Bath CountyBuckingham County(part), Buena Vista, Charlottesville, Covington, Nelson County, Rockbridge County(part)
26 Mark Obenshain Ends.png Republican Harrisonburg, Page County, Rappahannock County, Rockingham County(part), Shenandoah County, Warren County
27 Jill Vogel Ends.png Republican Clarke County, Fauquier(part), Frederick County, Loudoun COunty(part), Winchester
28 Richard Stuart Ends.png Republican Fauquier County(part), Fredericksburg(part), King George County, Lancaster County, Northumberland County, Prince William County(part), Richmond County, Stafford County, Westmoreland County
29 Charles Colgan Electiondot.png Democratic Manassas, Manassas Park, Prince William County(part)
30 Adam Ebbin Electiondot.png Democratic Alexandria(part), Arlington County(part), Fairfax County(part)
31 Barbara Favola Electiondot.png Democratic Arlington County(part), Fairfax County(part), Falls Church
32 Janet Howell Electiondot.png Democratic Fairfax County(part)
33 Mark Herring Electiondot.png Democratic Fairfax County(part), Loudoun County(part)
34 Chap Petersen Electiondot.png Democratic Fairfax, Fairfax County(part)
35 Dick Saslaw Electiondot.png Democratic Alexandria(part), Fairfax County(part)
36 Toddy Puller Electiondot.png Democratic Fairfax County(part), Prince William County(part)
37 Dave Marsden Electiondot.png Democratic Fairfax County(part)
38 Phillip Puckett Electiondot.png Democratic Bland County, Buchanan County, Dickenson County, Pulaski County(part), Russell County, Smyth County(part), Tazewell County, Wise County(part), Wythe County(part)
39 George Barker Electiondot.png Democratic Fairfax County(part), Prince William County(part)
40 Bill Carrico Ends.png Republican Bristol, Grayson County(part), Lee County, Norton, Scott County, Smyth County(part), Washington County, Wise County(part)

Standing committees

The Virginia Senate has 11 standing senate committees. They are:[16]

External links