Senate of Virginia

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Coordinates: 37°32′20.3″N 77°26′1.7″W / 37.538972°N 77.433806°W / 37.538972; -77.433806

Senate of Virginia
Virginia General Assembly
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type Upper House
Term limits None
History
New session started January 8, 2014
Leadership
Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, (D)
Since January 11, 2014
President pro Tempore Charles J. Colgan, (D)
Since January 28, 2014
Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, (D)
Since January 28, 2014
Minority Leader Tommy Norment, (R)
Since January 28, 2014
Structure
Seats 40
Political groups      Democratic Party (20)
     Republican Party (20)
Length of term 4 years
Authority Article IV, Virginia Constitution
Salary $18,000/year + per diem
Elections
Last election November 8, 2011
(40 seats)
Next election November 3, 2015
(40 seats)
Redistricting Legislative Control
Meeting place
Virginia Senate in Session.jpg
State Senate Chamber
Virginia State Capitol
Richmond, Virginia
Website
Senate of Virginia

The Senate of Virginia is the upper house of the Virginia General Assembly. The Senate is composed of 40 Senators representing an equal number of single-member constituent districts. The Senate is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. Prior to the American War of Independence, the upper house of the General Assembly was represented by the Virginia Governor's Council, consisting of up to 12 executive counselors appointed by the Colonial Royal Governor as advisers and jurists.

The Lieutenant Governor presides daily over the Virginia Senate. In the Lieutenant Governor's absence, the President pro Tempore presides, usually a powerful member of the majority party. The Senate is equal with the House of Delegates, the lower chamber of the legislature, except that taxation bills must originate in the House, similar to the federal U.S. Congress.

Members of the Virginia Senate are elected every four years by the voters of the 40 senatorial districts on the Tuesday succeeding the first Monday in November. The last election took place in November 2011. There are no term limits for Senators.

In the 2007 Virginia state elections, the Democratic Party reclaimed the majority in the Senate for the first time since 1995, when the Republican Party gained a 20-20 split. The Republicans took control of the Senate for the first time in history after a January 1998 special election. The 2011 elections resulted in a 20-20 split between the parties, but as the tie breaker was Republican Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, the Republicans effectively regained control.[1] After the 2013 elections, Democratic State Senator Ralph Northam became the Lt. Governor, but the Democrats did not regain control of the chamber until Northam's seat was filled with a fellow Democrat after a January 2014 special election.

Historic Partisan Makeup of the Senate of Virginia

History[edit]

The Senate of Virginia was created by the 1776 Constitution of Virginia, and originally consisisted of twenty-four members.[2] Along with the House of Delegates, the Senate comprised a new bicameral legislature designed to replace the colonial Virginia House of Burgesses, which formally dissolved on the sixth of May, 1776.[3]

Pursuant to the original Virginia Constitution, the Senate was only permitted to file amendments, while the House of Delegates had the power to propose bills. Accordingly, the Senate had far less power than the House, until the revised Virginia constitution of 1851 allowed the Senate to also propose new laws.[4]

Salary and qualifications[edit]

The annual salary for senators is $18,000 per year.[5] To qualify for office, senators must be at least 21 years of age at the time of the election, residents of the district they represent, and qualified to vote for General Assembly legislators.[5] The regular session of the General Assembly is 60 days long during even numbered years and 30 days long during odd numbered years, unless extended by a two-thirds vote of both houses.[5]

Composition[edit]

Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Total
Democratic Republican Vacant
End of Previous Session (2008-2012) 22 18 40 0
Begin 20 20 40 0
July 3, 2012[c 1] 19 39 1
September 17, 2012[c 2] 20 40 0
August 5, 2013[c 3] 19 39 1
August 16, 2013[c 4] 20 40 0
January 11, 2014[c 5] 18 38 2
January 24, 2014[c 6] 19 39 1
January 28, 2014[c 7] 20 20 40 0
Latest voting share 50% 50%
  1. ^ Democrat Yvonne B. Miller (District 5) died.
  2. ^ Democrat Kenny Alexander replaced Miller after September 4 special election.
  3. ^ Republican Harry Blevins (District 14) resigned. Although in theory Democrats had a brief numerical majority, the Senate was not in session. Additionally, rules adopted at the beginning of the 2012 session required a two-thirds supermajority vote to reorganize the Senate mid-session.
  4. ^ Republican John Cosgrove replaced Blevins after August 6 special election.
  5. ^ Democrats Ralph Northam (District 6) and Mark Herring (District 33) resigned upon being inaugurated Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, respectively.
  6. ^ Democrat Jennifer Wexton replaced Herring after January 22 special election.
  7. ^ Democrat Lynwood Lewis replaced Northam after January 7 special election and January 27 recount. After regaining a numerical majority in the Senate, the Democrats voted to change the Senate's rules and reorganize the chamber, putting the Senate back under Democratic control.

Leadership[edit]

Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam
President pro Tempore Chuck Colgan
Majority Leader Dick Saslaw
Minority Leader Tommy Norment

Committee chairs and ranking members[edit]

The Senate of Virginia has 11 standing committees.[6]

Committee Chair Senior Minority Member
Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Phillip Puckett Emmett Hanger
Commerce and Labor Richard Saslaw John Watkins
Courts of Justice Henry L. Marsh Tommy Norment
Education and Health Louise Lucas Stephen H. Martin
Finance Charles Colgan (Co-Chair) Walter Stosch (Co-Chair)
General Laws and Technology Mamie Locke Frank Ruff
Local Government David W. Marsden Ralph K. Smith
Privileges and Elections Janet Howell Mark Obenshain
Rehabilitation and Social Services Toddy Puller Frank Wagner
Rules John Edwards Ryan McDougle
Transportation Creigh Deeds Steve Newman

Members[edit]

District Name Party Areas Represented First Election
Counties Cities
1 John Miller Democratic James City (part), York (part) Hampton (part), Newport News (part), Suffolk (part), Williamsburg 2007
2 Mamie Locke York (part) Hampton (part), Newport News (part), Portsmouth (part), Suffolk (part) 2003
3 Tommy Norment Republican Gloucester, Isle of Wight (part), James City (part), King William, King and Queen, New Kent, Surry (part), York (part) Hampton (part), Poquoson, Suffolk (part) 1991
4 Ryan McDougle Caroline, Essex, Hanover (part), King George (part), Lancaster, Middlesex, Northumberland, Richmond, Spotsylvania (part), Westmoreland (part) 2006
5 Kenny Alexander Democratic Chesapeake (part), Norfolk (part) 2012
6 Lynwood Lewis Accomack, Mathews, Northampton Norfolk (part), Virginia Beach (part) 2014
7 Frank Wagner Republican 2001
8 Jeff McWaters Virginia Beach (part) 2010
9 A. Donald McEachin Democratic Charles City, Hanover (part), Henrico (part) Richmond (part) 2007
10 John Watkins Republican Chesterfield (part), Powhatan 1997
11 Stephen H. Martin Chesterfield (part), Amelia Colonial Heights 1993
12 Walter Stosch Hanover (part), Henrico (part) 1991
13 Richard Black Loudoun (part), Prince William (part) 2011
14 John Cosgrove Isle of Wight (part), Southampton (part) Chesapeake (part), Franklin (part), Portsmouth (part) Suffolk (part), Virginia Beach (part) 2013
15 Frank Ruff Brunswick (part), Campbell (part), Charlotte, Dinwiddie (part), Halifax (part), Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Pittsylvania (part), Prince George (part) Danville (part) 2000
16 Henry L. Marsh Democratic Chesterfield (part), Dinwiddie (part), Prince George (part) Hopewell, Petersburg, Richmond (part) 1991
17 Bryce Reeves Republican Albemarle (part), Culpeper (part), Louisa (part), Orange, Spotsylvania (part) Fredericksburg 2011
18 Louise Lucas Democratic Brunswick (part), Greensville, Isle of Wight (part), Southampton (part), Surry (part), Sussex Chesapeake (part), Emporia, Franklin (part), Portsmouth (part), Suffolk (part) 1991
19 Ralph K. Smith Republican Bedford (part), Carroll (part), Floyd, Franklin (part), Montgomery (part), Roanoke (part), Wythe (part) Salem 2011
20 Bill Stanley Carroll (part), Franklin (part), Halifax (part), Henry, Patrick, Pittsylvania (part), Danville (part), Galax, Martinsville 2011
21 John S. Edwards Democrat Giles, Montgomery (part), Roanoke (part) Roanoke 1995
22 Thomas Garrett, Jr. Republican Amherst, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Goochland, Louisa (part), Prince Edward Lynchburg (part) 2011
23 Steve Newman Bedford (part), Botetourt, Campbell (part), Craig, Roanoke (part) Lynchburg (part) 1995
24 Emmett Hanger Augusta, Culpeper (part), Greene, Madison, Rockingham (part) Staunton, Waynesboro 1995
25 Creigh Deeds Democratic Albemarle (part), Alleghany, Bath, Highland, Nelson, Rockbridge Buena Vista, Charlottesville, Covington, Lexington 2001
26 Mark Obenshain Republican Page, Rappahannock, Rockingham (part), Shenandoah, Warren Harrisonburg 2003
27 Jill Holtzman Vogel Clarke, Culpeper (part), Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun (part), Stafford (part) Winchester 2007
28 Richard Stuart King George (part), Prince William (part), Spotsylvania (part), Stafford (part), Westmoreland (part) 2007
29 Chuck Colgan Democratic Prince William (part) Manassas, Manassas Park 1975
30 Adam Ebbin Arlington (part), Fairfax (part) Alexandria (part) 2011
31 Barbara Favola Arlington (part), Fairfax (part), Loudoun (part) 2011
32 Janet Howell Arlington (part), Fairfax (part) 1991
33 Jennifer Wexton Fairfax (part), Loudoun (part) 2014
34 Chap Petersen Fairfax (part) Fairfax 2007
35 Richard L. Saslaw Alexandria (part), Falls Church 1980
36 Toddy Puller Fairfax (part), Prince William (part), Stafford (part) 2000
37 Dave Marsden Fairfax (part) 2010
38 Phillip Puckett Bland, Buchanan, Dickenson, Montgomery (part), Pulaski, Russell, Smyth (part), Tazewell, Wise (part) Norton, Radford 1998
39 George Barker Fairfax (part), Prince William (part) Alexandria (part) 2007
40 Charles William Carrico, Sr. Republican Grayson, Lee, Scott, Smyth (part), Washington, Wise (part), Wythe (part) Bristol 2011

Senate seal[edit]

The Senate of Virginia has its own coat of arms designed and granted by the College of Arms in England.[7][8] The coat of arms also makes up the official seal of the Virginia Senate. It bears no resemblance to the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which is the seal of the state as a whole.

The Coat of Arms of the London Company.

The coat of arms adopted January 22, 1981 was designed by the College of Arms and based on the coat of arms used by the London Company, the royally-chartered English entrepreneurs who funded the European settlement of Virginia. This is not to be confused with the Seal of the London Company, for other than both devices displaying a quartered shield, there is little resemblance between them.

The Senate's arms have a shield in the center which is divided into four sections by a red cross. In each quarter are smaller shields representing the arms of four countries (England, France, Scotland, and Ireland.) that contributed settlers to Virginia's most early waves of European immigration.[7][8]

The four coats of arms, a small crest of a crowned female head with unbound hair representing Queen Elizabeth (the Virgin Queen who named Virginia,[9] and the dragon (part of the Elizabethan royal seal of England) represent Virginia's European heritage.[7][8]

An ivory gavel emblazoned on the vertical arm of the red cross represents the Senate as a law making body. The cardinal and dogwood depicted are Virginia's official state bird and tree. The ribbon contains the Latin motto of the Senate, Floreat Senatus Virginiae, which means "May the Senate of Virginia flourish."[7][8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Walker, Julian (11/9/2011). "Virginia Republicans claim victory in state Senate". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 2013-01-25. 
  2. ^ "Constitution of Virginia, 1776". Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  3. ^ "The General Assembly Adjourns (1776)". Encyclopedia of Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "House of Burgesses". Encyclopedia of Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c "Virginia State Legislature". VAKids.org. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  6. ^ "Legislative Committees". Legislative Information System. Virginia General Assembly. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  7. ^ a b c d Official Virginia State Senate "Capitol Classroom" site. Accessed November 7, 2007.
  8. ^ a b c d Answers.Com: Virginia State Senate Seal Accessed November 7, 2007.
  9. ^ The Queen named Virginia in 1584 by modifying a Native American regional "king" named "Wingina". Stewart, George (1945). Names on the Land: A Historical Account of Place-Naming in the United States. New York: Random House. p. 22. 

External links[edit]