Washington State Senate
|Washington State Senate|
|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)|
| 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|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 Elections
- 4 Redistricting
- 5 Senators
- 6 Senate committees
- 7 History
- 8 External links
- 9 References
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 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 2014 state legislative sessions
In 2014, the Legislature is projected to be in session from January 13 through March 12.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
In 2013, the Legislature will be in session from January 14 through April 28.
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.
- 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. 
- 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.
Ethics and transparency
Open States Transparency
The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Washington 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.
- See also: Washington State Senate elections, 2012
The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.
|2012 Margin of Victory, Washington State Senate|
|District||Winner||Margin of Victory||Total Votes||Top Opponent|
|District 17||Don Benton||0.1%||54,998||Tim Probst|
|District 10||Barbara Bailey||5.6%||71,588||Mary Margaret Haugen|
|District 41||Steve Litzow||8.1%||69,048||Maureen Judge|
|District 5||Mark Mullet||8.9%||67,548||Brad Toft|
|District 20||John Braun||10.9%||54,018||Dan Swecker|
|District 1||Rosemary McAuliffe||11%||67,248||Dawn McCravey|
|District 2||Randi Becker||13.6%||56,232||Bruce Lachney|
|District 27||Jeannie Darneille||14.6%||54,007||John Connelly|
|District 39||Kirk Pearson||15.2%||58,052||Scott Olson|
|District 3||Andy Billig||15.7%||51,185||Nancy McLaughlin|
- See also: Washington State Senate elections, 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: 
|2010 Donors, Washington State Senate|
|Senate Republican Campaign Cmte of Washington||$376,889|
|Washington State Republican Party||$345,668|
|Senate Democratic Campaign Cmte||$295,049|
|Bennett, Gregg D||$136,540|
|King County Republican Central Cmte||$111,251|
|Washington State Democratic Central Cmte- Non-Exempt||$103,124|
|Washington State Democratic Party||$88,239|
|Premera Blue Cross||$36,500|
|6th District Legislative Cmte||$33,500|
|Washington State Dental Association||$31,200|
- See also: Washington State Senate elections, 2008
Elections for the office of Washington State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 19, 2008, and a general election on November 4, 2008.
During the 2008 election, the total contributions to House candidates was $6,822,733. The top 10 contributors were:
|2008 Donors, Washington State Senate|
|Senate Democratic Campaign Cmte Of Washington||$343,472|
|Washington State Republican Party||$238,525|
|Senate Republican Campaign Cmte Of Washington||$211,320|
|Washington State Democratic Party||$125,536|
|Washington State Dental Association||$42,000|
|Washington Beverage Association||$36,900|
|Pierce County Republican Party||$33,879|
|Holland America Line||$32,800|
|Washington Federation Of State Employees||$32,200|
- See also: Washington State Senate elections, 2006
Elections for the office of Washington State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 19, 2006, and a general election on November 7, 2006.
During the 2006 election, the total contributions to House candidates was $7,241,049. The top 10 contributors were:
|2006 Donors, Washington State Senate|
|Senate Democratic Campaign Cmte||$351,479|
|Washington State Democratic Party||$274,726|
|Senate Republican Campaign Cmte/SRCC||$252,418|
|Oemig, Eric W||$70,871|
|Marr, Christopher J||$68,819|
|Benson Surplus Account, Brad||$45,000|
|Washington Health Care Association||$44,650|
|Washington State Dental Association||$32,775|
|Washington Bankers Association||$31,600|
- See also: Washington State Senate elections, 2004
Elections for the office of Washington 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 contributions to House candidates was $6,993,740. The top 10 contributors were:
|2004 Donors, Washington State Senate|
|Washington State Democratic Party||$384,148|
|Senate Democratic Campaign Cmte Of Washington||$351,039|
|Washington State Republican Party||$199,192|
|Senate Republican Campaign Cmte Of Washington||$171,931|
|Weinstein, Brian D||$59,456|
|Washington Restaurant Association||$33,625|
|Washington State Auto Dealers Association||$32,125|
|Washington State Dental Association||$31,575|
|Puget Sound Energy||$29,800|
|Pemco Mutual Insurance||$28,800|
- See also: Washington State Senate elections, 2002
Elections for the office of Washington State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 17, 2002, and a general election on November 5, 2002.
During the 2002 election, the total contributions to House candidates was $4,496,407. The top 10 contributors were:
|2002 Donors, Washington State Senate|
|Washington State Democratic Party||$355,369|
|Senate Democratic Campaign Cmte Of Washington||$300,541|
|Washington State Republican Party||$152,655|
|Senate Republican Campaign Cmte Of Washington||$130,962|
|Public School Employees Of Washington Local 1948||$26,525|
|Washington Society Of CPAs||$21,625|
|Washington State Dental Association||$21,275|
|42nd Leg District Democrats||$21,000|
- See also: Washington State Senate elections, 2000
Elections for the office of Washington State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 19, 2000, and a general election on November 7, 2000.
During the 2000 election, the total contributions to House candidates was $4,339,111. The top 10 contributors were:
|2000 Donors, Washington State Senate|
|Senate Democratic Campaign Cmte||$257,475|
|Washington State Democratic Party||$195,848|
|Washington State Republican Party||$172,609|
|Senate Republican Camp Cmte||$166,599|
|Clark County Democratic Central Cmte||$34,295|
|Washington State Auto Dealers||$28,375|
|Public School Employees Of Washington Local 1948||$24,300|
|Washington Federation Of State Employees||$24,200|
|Washington Education Association||$23,814|
|Washington Restaurant Association||$23,010|
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."
| How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures |
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
When sworn in
Washington legislators assume office the first day of session.
- 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.
|Party||As of May 2015|
The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Washington State Senate from 1992-2013.
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.
List of current members
The Washington State Senate has 15 standing committees:
- Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development
- Commerce & Labor
- Early Learning & K-12 Education
- Energy, Environment & Telecommunications
- Financial Institutions & Insurance
- Governmental Operations
- Health Care
- Higher Education
- Human Services & Corrections
- Law & Justice
- Natural Resources & Parks
- Trade & Economic Development
- Ways & Means
Partisan balance 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.
SQLI and partisanship
The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Washington 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, Washington had a number of Democratic trifectas. The state experienced both high and low rankings during the years with Democratic trifectas. Its highest ranking overall, finishing 8th, occurred in 1998 during a divided government.
- Official website of the State of Washington Senate
- Official list of Washington State Senators
- Map of State Senate Districts
- Washington Votes, website with voting records for all State of Washington Senators
- The Washington State Senate on Wikipedia
- Population in 2010 of the American states, accessed November 22, 2013
- Population in 2000 of the American states
- The Spokesman Review, "Budget remains pressing issue in new legislative session," January 13, 2013
- 2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar, NCSL
- 2010 session convening dates for Washington legislature
- 2010 session adjourning dates for Washington legislature
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- Follow the Money: "Washington Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions"
- Follow the Money, "Washington 2008 Candidates," Accessed August 5, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Washington 2006 Candidates," Accessed August 5, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Washington 2004 Candidates," Accessed August 5, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Washington 2002 Candidates," Accessed August 5, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Washington 2000 Candidates," Accessed August 5, 2013
- Washington Legislature, "Washington Constitution," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Section Article II, Section XV)
- U.S. Census Bureau, "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Washington's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting," February 23, 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
- NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
- KING, "New coalition takes control in Washington state's Senate," January 14, 2013. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
- Washington State Senate - 2009 Permanent Rules of the Senate
- Washington State Senate 2009-2010 Leadership
State of Washington
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