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Revision as of 12:46, 3 July 2013

West Virginia State Senate

Seal of West Virginia.svg.png
General Information
Type:   Upper house
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   January 9, 2013
Website:   Official Senate Page
Senate President:   Jeffrey Kessler, (D)
Majority Leader:   John Unger, (D)
Minority Leader:   Mike Hall, (R)
Members:  34
   Democratic Party (16)
Republican Party (18)
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:   Art VI, Section 3, West Virginia Constitution
Salary:   $20,000/year + per diem
Last Election:  November 6, 2012 (17 seats)
Next election:  November 4, 2014 (17 seats)
Redistricting:  West Virginia legislature special session controls
The West Virginia Senate is the upper house of the West Virginia Legislature.

The senate has 34 senators. They are elected from 17 senate districts; each of these districts elect two senators who serve staggered four-year terms, which means that each of the 17 state senate districts have one state senate election every even-numbered year. Each member represents an average of 54,500 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[1] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 53,187 residents.[2]

West Virginia's state senators are not subject to term limits.

As of April 2015, West Virginia is one of 7 Democratic state government trifectas.


Article VI of the West Virginia Constitution establishes when the West Virginia State Legislature, of which the Senate is a part, is to be in session. Section 18 of Article VI states that the Legislature is to convene its regular session on the second Wednesday of January of each year. Once every four years, on the year in which the Governor of West Virginia is inaugurated, the Legislature holds a thirty day recess after the first day of the session. This recess is designed to give the Governor time to prepare a budget.

Section 22 of Article VI limits regular sessions of the Legislature to sixty days. Regular sessions can be extended by a two-thirds vote of the members of both legislative houses.

Section 19 of Article VI gives the Governor of West Virginia the power to convene the Legislature into special session. Section 19 also requires the Governor to convene a special session if it is requested by three-fifths of the members of each legislative house.


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature will be in session from January 9 through April 13.

Major issues

Major issues include the availability of soft drinks in schools, repeal of the law allowing the sterilization of "mental defectives," and treatment of sexually-transmitted diseases.[3]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Senate was in session from January 11 through March 10.


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Senate was in regular session from January 12 through March 18. [4] An August 1 special session was called by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to pass legislation related to redistricting and other topics.[5] A second special session began on August 15, to replace the House of Delegates' redistricting plan. The House's plan, which passed during the first special session on August 1, must be vetoed because of errors. The plan contains duplicate voter precinct populations for districts in both Kanawha and Morgan counties.[6]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Senate was in regular session from January 13 to March 20. Additionally, the Legislature met in special session from May 13 to May 19.[7][8]


See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. West Virginia was given a grade of B 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.[9]



See also: West Virginia State Senate elections, 2012

Elections for the office of West Virginia State Senate will be held in West Virginia on November 6, 2012. A total of 17 seats were up for election.

The signature filing deadline was January 28, 2012 and the primary date was May 8, 2012.

The following table details the 9 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.


See also: West Virginia State Senate elections, 2010

Elections for the office of West Virginia's State Senate were held in West Virginia on November 2, 2010. Out of 34 Senate seats, 17 were on the ballot in 2010. Senators in West Virginia State Senate serve staggered four year terms, which means that each of the 17 state senate districts have one state senate election every even-numbered year.

The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was January 30, 2010. The primary election day was May 11, 2010.

In 2010, the candidates for state senate raised a total of $2,663,291 in campaign contributions. The top 10 donors were: [10]


Section 13 of Article 6 of the West Virginia Constitution states, "No person holding any other lucrative office or employment under this state, the United States, or any foreign government; no member of Congress; and no person who is sheriff, constable, or clerk of any court of record, shall be eligible to a seat in the Legislature."


How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures
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See also: How vacancies are filled in state legislatures

If there is a vacancy in the West Virginia Senate, the Governor is responsible for filling any vacancy[11] [12].

There is two procedures for filling vacancies dependent upon how much time is left in the vacant Senator's term. A gubernatorial appointment is required if less than two months and two years are left in the vacant Senator's term. A temporary gubernatorial appointment is required for any vacancy that has more than two months and two years remaining. The person who is selected by the Governor to fill the seat on an interim basis, serves until the next scheduled general election. A special election must be held to determine a permanent replacement. The executive committee of the political party that holds the vacant Senate seat is responsible for making recommendations to the Governor on any appointment[12].


Map of Senate districts

The Legislature is responsible for redistricting in a summer session after Census data comes in; the Governor holds veto power.

2010 census

West Virginia received its local census data on March 23, 2011. The state grew a meager 2.5 percent with most growth by county seen in the northeast part of the state. The state's largest cities showed decline: Charleston decreased by 3.8 percent, Huntington decreased by 4.5 percent, Parkersburg decreased by 4.9 percent, Morgantown grew by 10.6 percent, and Wheeling decreased by 9.3 percent.[13]

The 2011 redistricting period was notable for the proposal of eliminating the state's multi-member districts, which ultimately failed. The Legislature passed plans in early August; Democratic Governor Ray Tomblin vetoed the House plan on August 17, 2011, calling for another session to begin the next day. On August 21, the Legislature approved revisions to the House plan, and struck down numerous Republican amendment including the replacement of the multi-member system with 100 single-member constituencies. Tomblin signed the plan on Friday, September 2, 2011.



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the West Virginia Legislature are paid $20,000/year. Legislators receive $131/day per diem during session, set by the compensation commission.[14]

When sworn in

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

West Virginia legislators assume office the first day of December following the election.

Partisan composition

See also: Partisan composition of state senates
Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 16
     Republican Party 17
     Vacancy 1
Total 34

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

Partisan composition of the West Virginia State Senate.PNG


The Senate elects the President of the Senate from its membership. The President also serves as Lieutenant Governor and is the second ranking constitutional officer in the state. [15][16]

Current leadership

Current Leadership, West Virginia State Senate
Office Representative Party
President of the Senate Jeffrey Kessler Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate President Pro Tempore Larry Edgell Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Majority Leader John Unger Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Majority Whip William Laird Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Minority Leader Mike Hall Ends.png Republican
State Senate Minority Whip Vacant Ends.png Republican

List of current members

Current members, West Virginia State Senate
District Senator Party Assumed office
1 Robert Fitzsimmons Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
1 Jack Yost Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
2 Larry Edgell Electiondot.png Democratic 1998
2 Jeffrey Kessler Electiondot.png Democratic 1997
3 Donna Boley Ends.png Republican 1985
3 David Nohe Ends.png Republican 2010
4 Mitch B. Carmichael Ends.png Republican 2012
4 Mike Hall Ends.png Republican 2006
5 Evan Jenkins Electiondot.png Democratic 2002
5 Robert Plymale Electiondot.png Democratic 1992
6 Truman Chafin Electiondot.png Democratic 1982
6 Bill Cole Ends.png Republican 2012
7 Art Kirkendoll Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
7 Ron Stollings Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
8 Chris Walters Ends.png Republican 2012
8 Erik Wells Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
9 Daniel Hall Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
9 Mike Green Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
10 William Laird Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
10 Ron Miller Electiondot.png Democratic 2010
11 Clark Barnes Ends.png Republican 2004
11 Gregory Tucker Electiondot.png Democratic 2010
12 Samuel Cann, Sr. Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
12 Douglas Facemire Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
13 Robert Beach Electiondot.png Democratic 2010
13 Roman Prezioso Electiondot.png Democratic 1996
14 Robert Williams Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
14 David Sypolt Ends.png Republican 2006
15 Craig P. Blair Ends.png Republican 2012
15 Donald Cookman Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
16 John Unger Electiondot.png Democratic 1998
16 Herb Snyder Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
17 Corey Palumbo Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
17 Brooks McCabe Electiondot.png Democratic 1998

Senate Committees

The West Virginia State Senate has 18 standing committees:

Additionally, there is one select committee:


Partisan balance 1992-2013

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

Throughout every year from 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the West Virginia State Senate. The West Virginia State Senate is one of 16 state senates that was Democratic for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. West Virginia was under Democratic trifectas for the final 13 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 West Virginia, the West Virginia State Senate and the West Virginia House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of West Virginia state government(1992-2013).PNG

External links