Senate of Virginia
|Senate of Virginia|
|Virginia General Assembly|
New session started
|January 8, 2014|
|Republican Party (21)
Democratic Party (18)
Length of term
|Authority||Article IV, Virginia Constitution|
|Salary||$18,000/year + per diem|
|November 8, 2011
|November 3, 2015
|State Senate Chamber
Virginia State Capitol
|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.
After the 2013 elections, Democratic State Senator Ralph Northam became the Lt. Governor, but the Democrats did not regain control of the chamber until January 28, 2014, following a series of special elections including that of Northam's vacated 6th district seat. The Democratic majority would prove short-lived, however, as Senator Phil Puckett (D-38th) resigned, effective June 8, handing the GOP a majority of 20 to 19. The Republicans solidified their majority following a Special Election win on August 19, 2014, which increased their total number of seats to 21.
The Senate of Virginia was created by the 1776 Constitution of Virginia, and originally consisted of twenty-four members. 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.
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 propose new laws.
Salary and qualifications
The annual salary for senators is $18,000 per year. 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. 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.
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
|End of Previous Session (2008-2012)||22||18||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|
|June 8, 2014[c 8]||19||20||39||1|
|July 2, 2014[c 9]||18||38||2|
|August 19, 2014[c 10]||18||21||39||1|
|Latest voting share||46.2%||53.8%|
- Democrat Yvonne B. Miller (District 5) died.
- Democrat Kenny Alexander replaced Miller after September 4 special election.
- 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.
- Republican John Cosgrove replaced Blevins after August 6 special election.
- Democrats Ralph Northam (District 6) and Mark Herring (District 33) resigned upon being inaugurated Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, respectively.
- Democrat Jennifer Wexton replaced Herring after January 22 special election.
- 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.
- Democrat Phillip Puckett (District 38) resigned. Republicans regained effective control and adopted their own rules change effective June 12.
- Democrat Henry L. Marsh (District 16) resigned to take a seat on the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.
- Republican Del. Ben Chafin won the special election to fill the 38th district seat vacated in June by Phillip Puckett.
|Lieutenant Governor||Ralph Northam|
|President pro Tempore||Walter A. Stosch|
|Majority Leader||Tommy Norment|
|Minority Leader||Dick Saslaw|
Committee chairs and ranking members
The Senate of Virginia has 11 standing committees.
|Committee||Chair||Ranking Minority Member|
|Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources||Emmett Hanger||TBD|
|Commerce and Labor||John Watkins||Dick Saslaw|
|Courts of Justice||Tommy Norment & Mark Obenshain (Co-Chair)||TBD|
|Education and Health||Stephen H. Martin||Louise Lucas|
|Finance||Walter Stosch (Co-Chair)||Charles Colgan (Co-Chair)|
|General Laws and Technology||Frank Ruff||Mamie Locke|
|Local Government||Ralph K. Smith||David W. Marsden|
|Privileges and Elections||Mark Obenshain||Janet Howell|
|Rehabilitation and Social Services||Frank Wagner||Toddy Puller|
|Transportation||Steve Newman||Creigh Deeds|
|District||Name||Party||Areas Represented||First Election|
|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|
|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||Vacant||Chesterfield (part), Dinwiddie (part), Prince George (part)||Hopewell, Petersburg, Richmond (part)|
|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||Ben Chafin||Republican||Bland, Buchanan, Dickenson, Montgomery (part), Pulaski, Russell, Smyth (part), Tazewell, Wise (part)||Norton, Radford||2014|
|39||George Barker||Democratic||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|
The Senate of Virginia has its own coat of arms designed and granted by the College of Arms in England. 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 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.
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, and the dragon (part of the Elizabethan royal seal of England) represent Virginia's European heritage.
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."
- Walker, Julian (November 9, 2011). "Virginia Republicans claim victory in state Senate". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 2013-01-25.
- Vozella, Laura (2014-06-09). "GOP controls Va. Senate, will force budget deal". The Washington Post.
- "Constitution of Virginia, 1776". Retrieved January 30, 2014.
- "The General Assembly Adjourns (1776)". Encyclopedia of Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
- "House of Burgesses". Encyclopedia of Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
- "Virginia State Legislature". VAKids.org. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
- "Legislative Committees". Legislative Information System. Virginia General Assembly. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
- Official Virginia State Senate "Capitol Classroom" site. Accessed November 7, 2007.
- Answers.Com: Virginia State Senate Seal; accessed November 7, 2007.
- 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.
- Virginia General Assembly official government website
- Project Vote Smart - State Senate of Virginia
- Official Virginia Emblems Includes a very small version of the Seal of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Virginia