Washington State Senate
|Washington State Senate|
|Partisan control:||Republican Party|
|2015 session start:||January 12, 2015|
|Website:||Official Senate Page|
|Senate President:||Brad Owen (D)|
|Majority Leader:||Rodney Tom (D)|
|Minority Leader:||Sharon Nelson (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 4, 2014 (25 seats)|
|Next election:||November 8, 2016|
|Redistricting:||Washington State Redistricting Commission|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 Elections
- 4 Redistricting
- 5 Senators
- 6 Senate committees
- 7 History
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 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 House of Representatives. Each district elects two representatives but only one senator.
As of May 2015, Washington is one of 19 states that is under divided government and is therefore not one of the 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 2015 state legislative sessions
In 2015, the Legislature was in session from January 12 through April 24. The Legislature began a 30-day special session on April 29.
- See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 13 through March 14.
Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included a court-mandated $5 billion education funding package, transportation funding through a gas tax increase and climate change proposals.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 14 through April 29.
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.
Role in state budget
- See also: Washington state budget and finances
- Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in April.
- State agency budget requests are submitted in September.
- The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the Washington State Legislature on or before December 20.
- The legislature adopts a budget in April or May. A simple majority is required to pass a budget.
- The biennial budget cycle begins in July.
The governor is required by statute to submit a balanced budget to the legislature. Though the legislature is not required to pass a balanced budget, state law does forbid expenditures without supporting revenues.
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. Washington was one of the 10 states that used cost-benefit analysis more than the rest of the states with respect to determining return on investment regarding state programs. In addition, these states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis with respect to large budget areas and when making policy decisions.
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, Washington received a grade of B and a numerical score of 85, indicating that Washington was "advancing" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.
Missed Votes Report
- See also: Washington House of Representatives
In March 2014, Washington Votes, the state’s premier legislative information website, released its annual Missed Votes Report, which provides detailed missed roll call votes on bills for every state legislator during the 2014 legislative session. The 2014 regular session included a total of 515 votes in the State House and 396 in the State Senate, as well as 1,372 bills introduced total in the legislature and 237 bills passed. Out of all roll call votes, 90 individual legislators did not miss any votes. 3 individual legislators missed more than 50 votes.
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, 2014
Elections for 25 districts in the Washington State Senate took place in 2014. A blanket primary election took place on August 5, 2014. The general election was held on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was May 17, 2014.
- 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 value of 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 value of 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 value of 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 value of 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 value of 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 16 standing committees:
- Accountability & Reform
- Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development
- Commerce & Labor
- Early Learning & K-12 Education
- Energy, Environment & Telecommunications
- Financial Institutions & Insurance
- Government Operations and Security
- Health Care
- Higher Education
- Human Services, Mental Health & Housing
- 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 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 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.
- Washington House of Representatives
- Washington State Legislature
- Washington state legislative districts
- State legislative scorecards in Washington
- Governor of Washington
- Washington Constitution
- 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
- census.gov, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
- U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population," April 2, 2001
- washingtonstatewire.com, "Session Set to Open in ‘Bizarro World’ – Supreme Court Decision Turns Everything Upside Down," January 13, 2014
- The Spokesman Review, "Budget remains pressing issue in new legislative session," January 13, 2013
- 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
- Washington Policy Center, "2014 Missed Votes Report for Legislators Released," March 18, 2014
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Washington Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions," accessed August 2, 2013
- 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 (timed out)
- 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
- Washington State Senate, "2009 Permanent Rules of the Senate," accessed August 2, 2014
- Washington State Senate, "2009-2010 Leadership," accessed August 2, 2014
State of Washington
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