Washington State Senate

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Washington State Senate

Seal of Washington.jpg
General Information
Type:   Upper house
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   January 14, 2013
Website:   Official Senate Page
Senate President:   Brad Owen, (D)
Majority Leader:   Rodney Tom, (D)
Minority Leader:   Ed Murray, (D)
Members:  49
   Democratic Party (24)
Republican Party (25)
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:   Art II, Section 2, Washington Constitution
Salary:   $42,106/year + per diem
Last Election:  November 6, 2012 (26 seats)
Next election:  November 4, 2014
Redistricting:  Washington State Redistricting Commission
Meeting place:
Dome GS-842-26.jpg
The Washington State Senate is the upper house of the Washington State Legislature. It includes 49 senators. Each member represents an average of 137,236 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[1] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 120,288 residents.[2]

The Washington state senators have no term limits. Senatorial terms last four years. Senators are elected from the same legislative districts as are members of the Washington State House of Representatives. Each district elects two representatives but only one senator.

As of May 2015, Washington is one of 7 Democratic state government trifectas.


Article II of the Washington Constitution establishes when the Washington State Legislature, of which the Senate is a part, is to be in session. Section 12 of Article II allows the dates of regular sessions to be determined by statute. Section 12 limits the length of regular sessions to 105 days in odd-numbered years and 60 days in even-numbered years.

Section 12 also establishes rules for convening special sessions of the Legislature. It states that special sessions can be called by the Governor of Washington or by resolution of two-thirds of the members of each legislative house. Special sessions are not to exceed 30 days in length.


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature will be in session from January 14 through April 28.

Major issues

The budget remains the most pressing issue for the state. Other agenda items include marijuana, child sex abuse, gun control, wolves, small businesses, human trafficking, and healthcare.[3]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Senate was in session from January 9 through March 8.


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Senate was in session from January 10 through April 24. [4]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Senate was in regular session from January 11 to March 11. Additionally, the Legislature was in special session from March 15 to April 12 to deal with issues related to the economy and the state budget.[5][6]



See also: Washington State Senate elections, 2012

Elections for the office of Washington State Senate were held in Washington on November 6, 2012. A total of 24 seats were up for election.

The signature filing deadline was June 8, 2012 and the primary election was August 7, 2012.

The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.


See also: Washington State Senate elections, 2010

Elections for the office of Washington's State Senate were held in Washington on November 2, 2010.

The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was June 11, 2010. The primary election day was August 17, 2010.

In 2010, the candidates for state senate raised a total of $7,259,812 in campaign contributions. The top 10 donors were: [7]


Section 7 of Article 2 of the Washington State Constitution states, "No person shall be eligible to the legislature who shall not be a citizen of the United States and a qualified voter in the district for which he is chosen."


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 Senate, the Board of County Commissioners where the vacant seat is located has the responsibility to select a replacement. The state central committee of the political party that last held the seat must submit a list of three candidates to the Board of County Commissioners representing the vacant district. A selection must be made within 60 days after the vacancy happened[8].


See also: Redistricting in Washington

Legislative redistricting in Washington has been handled by the Washington State Redistricting Commission since 1983. The majority and minority leaders of the state House and Senate each appoint one member, and collectively select a non-voting chairperson. If they cannot agree on the chair, the Washington Supreme Court decides. The Governor does not hold veto power, and the Legislature can only make changes by two-thirds vote.

2010 census

Washington received its local census data on February 23, 2011. The state increased in population by 14.1 percent from 2000 to 2010. The major outlier was Franklin County, which jumped 58.4 percent. As far as the most populous cities, Seattle grew by 8.0 percent, Spokane grew by 6.8 percent, Tacoma grew by 2.5 percent, Vancouver grew by 12.7 percent, and Bellevue grew by 11.7 percent.[9]

The Commission released first draft maps on September 13, 2011. For the third time in a row, the Commission went down to the wire in agreeing on new legislative districts, finishing two hours and five minutes before New Year's Day 2012, at which point the Washington Supreme Court would have taken over. The Commission had mainly been concerned with the eastern districts and how to distribute Yakima Hispanics. The Legislature followed with tweaks, approving the final maps on January 27, 2012.



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the Washington Legislature are paid $42,106/year. Legislators receive $90/day per diem.[10]

When sworn in

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

Washington legislators assume office the first day of session.

Partisan composition

See also: Partisan composition of state senates

In the 2013-2014 legislative session, Democrats maintain a partisan majority, but control is held by the Republican-led Majority Caucus Coalition.[11]

Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 24
     Republican Party 25
Total 49

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

Partisan composition of the Washington State Senate.PNG


This image shows the state capitol under construction in the 1920s.

The Lieutenant Governor serves as President of the Senate, but only votes in the event of a tie. In the absence of the Lieutenant Governor, the President pro tempore served as presiding officer. The President pro tempore is elected by the majority party caucus, but must then be confirmed by the entire Senate.[12][13]

Current leadership

Current Leadership, Washington State Senate
Office Representative Party
President of the Senate Brad Owen Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Sheldon Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Vice President Pro Tempore Paull Shin Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Majority Coalition Leader Rodney Tom Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler Ends.png Republican
State Senate Majority Caucus Chair Linda Evans Parlette Ends.png Republican
State Senate Majority Floor Leader Joe Fain Ends.png Republican
State Senate Majority Whip Ann Rivers Ends.png Republican
State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Don Benton Ends.png Republican
State Senate Majority Caucus Vice Chair Bruce Dammeier Ends.png Republican
State Senate Assistant Majority Floor Leader Jim Honeyford Ends.png Republican
State Senate Assistant Majority Whip John Braun Ends.png Republican
State Senate Minority Leader Ed Murray Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Minority Caucus Leader Karen Fraser Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Minority Floor Leader David Frockt Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Minority Whip Andy Billig Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Deputy Minority Leader Nick Harper Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Assistant Minority Floor Leader Annette Cleveland Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Assistant Minority Whip Mark Mullet Electiondot.png Democratic

List of current members

Current members, Washington State Senate
District Senator Party Assumed office
1 Rosemary McAuliffe Electiondot.png Democratic 1993
2 Randi Becker Ends.png Republican 2009
3 Andy Billig Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
4 Mike Padden Ends.png Republican 2011
5 Mark Mullet Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
6 Michael Baumgartner Ends.png Republican 2011
7 John Smith Ends.png Republican 2013
8 Sharon Brown Ends.png Republican 2013
9 Mark Schoesler Ends.png Republican 2005
10 Barbara Bailey Ends.png Republican 2013
11 Bob Hasegawa Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
12 Linda Evans Parlette Ends.png Republican 2001
13 Janéa Holmquist Newbry Ends.png Republican 2011
14 Curtis King Ends.png Republican 2007
15 Jim Honeyford Ends.png Republican 1998
16 Mike Hewitt Ends.png Republican 2001
17 Don Benton Ends.png Republican 1997
18 Ann Rivers Ends.png Republican 2012
19 Brian Hatfield Electiondot.png Democratic 2007
20 John Braun Ends.png Republican 2013
21 Paull Shin Electiondot.png Democratic 1999
22 Karen Fraser Electiondot.png Democratic 1993
23 Christine Rolfes Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
24 James Hargrove Electiondot.png Democratic 1993
25 Bruce Dammeier Ends.png Republican 2013
26 Nathan Schlicher Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
27 Jeannie Darneille Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
28 Steve O'Ban Ends.png Republican 2013
29 Steve Conway Electiondot.png Democratic 1993
30 Tracey Eide Electiondot.png Democratic 1999
31 Pam Roach Ends.png Republican 1991
32 Maralyn Chase Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
33 Karen Keiser Electiondot.png Democratic 2001
34 Sharon Nelson Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
35 Tim Sheldon Electiondot.png Democratic 1997
36 Jeanne Kohl-Welles Electiondot.png Democratic 1995
37 Adam Kline Electiondot.png Democratic 1997
38 Nick Harper Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
39 Kirk Pearson Ends.png Republican 2013
40 Kevin Ranker Electiondot.png Democratic 2009
41 Steve Litzow Ends.png Republican 2011
42 Doug Ericksen Ends.png Republican 2011
43 Ed Murray Electiondot.png Democratic 2007
44 Steve Hobbs Electiondot.png Democratic 2007
45 Andy Hill Ends.png Republican 2011
46 Dave Frockt Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
47 Joe Fain Ends.png Republican 2011
48 Rodney Tom Electiondot.png Democratic 2007
49 Annette Cleveland Electiondot.png Democratic 2013

Senate committees

The Washington State Senate has 15 standing committees:


Partisan balance 1992-2013

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

From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Washington State Senate for 16 years while the Republicans were the majority for six years.

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 Washington, the Washington State Senate and the Washington House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Washington state government(1992-2013).PNG

External links