Peverill Squire and Gary Moncrief. State Legislatures Today: Politics Under the Domes. Boston” Longman, 2010.
State legislatures in 2009 faced budget deficits due to declining tax revenues from a poor economy’s lowered spending. State legislatures also faced several controversial issues, including how the death penalty, gay marriage, and energy issues. Numerous subjects were considered by state legislatures that received much public comment, including disallowing text messaging while driving (which passed in nine states), hate crimes (Maryland made attacking a homeless person a hate crime), puppy mills conditions, etc. Among the many topics legislators faced included, in the Arkansas legislature, a bill that proclaimed “Arkansas’s” as the correct possessive spelling.
Of the first 13 state legislatures, Pennsylvania and Georgia had unicamarel legislatures. Both became bicamarel upon both state’s second Constitutions, both in 1790. Vermont entered as the 14th state with a unicamarel legislature that remained unicamarel until 1836. Nebraska became a state with a unicamarel legislature in 1867 and has kept itself as such.
Legislative committees began emerging in the early 19th century.
The number of members in a legislative chamber goes from a low of 20 Alaska State Senators to a high of 400 New Hampshire House members.
From 1966 to 2009, there were an exact number of both Democrats and Republicans serving at the same time in 38 legislative chambers. This causes organizational difficulties in designating majority control of leadership and committees. Even having an odd number of members doesn’t avoid ties from happening, as Maine elected one independent Senator while also electing 17 Republican Senators and 17 Democratic Senators.
A poll found 51% support, with 32% against, to lower the Pennsylvania House by 53 members.
The Illinois legislature found more bills were introduced and its operating costs increased after it reduced its number of legislators. It is theorized that the size and political diversity of a state does more to determine how much work legislators do more so than the number of legislators it has.
The last state to enact term limits was Nebraska in 2000.
In 2006, a New Hampshire represented 3,287 constituents, the least number of constituents per legislator in the nation, compared to the most constituents per legislator being a California legislator with 455,719 constituents. The median number of constituents per lower chamber member was 40,232.
Campaigns for state legislature have reached over $2 million in the most expensive races.
A survey of 987 legislators found 46.6% had considered running for the legislature when another person convinced them to run, 32.1% decided to run of their own, and 21.3% were recruited to run. Men were more apt than women to decide to run on their won, by 36.5% for men and 16.1% for women. Women as a portion of legislators by state in 2009 were a low of 8.8% in South Carolina to a high of 38.3% in Vermont.
There were 20 states where Republicans controlled both legislative chambers, 29 where Democrats controlled both, and 10 were each party controlled a chamber in 2006. There is one non-partisan chamber in the unicamarel Nebraska. In 2007, there were 23 states where Democrats controlled both chambers, 16 states where Republican controlled both chambers, and 10 where each party controlled a chamber. The 2008 election produced the most numbers of states, since 1994, where one party was controlling both chambers where 20 states shifted to Democratic control.
Wyoming’s legislators have 40 days of session in off years and 20 days of session in even years, for which they are paid $4,500 per year plus $150 per diem for each session day attended. California legislators met full time with no restriction on the number of days of session for which they received $116,208 plus $173 per diems when attending sessions.
Professional legislatures have more session days and resources. A 2003 study declared California was the most professional legislature, Pennsylvania the 6th, and New Hampshire had the 50th most professional legislature.
In 2007, California legislatures had the highest annual salary at $116,308 (or an estimated $135,405 with per diems). Pennsylvania legislators had the fourth highest salary at $73,613 (or an estimated $83,380 with per diems). New Hampshire had the lowest salary at $100 and were provided with no per diems. Alaska had the 49th highest salary at $990, but they could receive $31,560 with per diems.
All legislators had professional and clerical staff for legislative committees. Some states don’t provide staff members to individual legislators and only a few states have staffed legislative district offices.
In 2009, 16 states had no Hispanic legislators. New Mexico had the highest portion of its legislators being Hispanic at 44%.
In 2009, there were 80 Native Americans legislators in 17 states. Maine law provided for non-voting legislators each from the Passamaquaddy and the Penabscot tribes.
Some legislative leaders have retaliated against legislative opponents in their own political party by removing them from leadership or committee positions, reducing their staff, moving their offices, ignoring their reelection efforts, etc.
In 2007, Speaker Tom Craddick was reelected Texas House Speaker after several fellow Republican legislators unsuccessfully tried to remove him. Craddick supported candidates in the Republican primaries who defeated some of those who opposed him.
Seniority rules in establishing committee appointments exist in Arkansas and South Carolina and partially in Texas and Mississippi. Other states use a caucus leader or a specific committee to choose who leads legislative committees.
Pennsylvania House members had a mean of 9.9 years of legislative service, with committee chairs having a mean of 21.6 years of service.
In 2005-2006, there were 214, 998 bills introduced with 38,805 or 18% passed. Pennsylvania had 8,201 bills introduced with 462 or 6% passed. There was, by state, a high of 33,081 bills introduced (in New York) and a low of 737 bills introduced (in Wyoming). There was a highest percent of bills introduced and passed, by state, of 66% in Colorado and a low of 3% in Minnesota.
Many state legislatures are required to produce a balance budget.
The incumbent reelection rates for legislators from 1990 to 2003 ranged from a high of 98.1% in New York to a low of 84.4% in Louisiana. Pennsylvania had the third highest incumbent reelection rate of 97.6%.
In 2009, 25 state legislative caucuses were on a social networking site (MySpace or Facebook), 23 had blogs, 20 were on Twitter, and 14 were on YouTube.