Virginia Senate

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

Senate of Virginia
162nd Virginia General Assembly
Coat of arms or logo
Term limits
New session started
January 8, 2020
Winsome Sears (R)
since January 15, 2022
Louise Lucas (D)
since January 8, 2020
Majority Leader
Dick Saslaw (D)
since January 8, 2020
Minority Leader
Tommy Norment (R)
since January 8, 2020
Political groups
  •   Democratic (22)



Length of term
4 years
AuthorityArticle IV, Virginia Constitution
Salary$18,000/year + per diem
Last election
November 5, 2019
(40 seats)
Next election
November 7, 2023
(40 seats)
Meeting place
State Senate Chamber
Virginia State Capitol
Richmond, Virginia
Virginia General Assembly

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. The 40 senatorial districts in Virginia elect their representatives every four years on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. The last election took place in November 2019. There are no term limits for senators. The Senate also employs 36 pages (ages 13–14) to help with daily tasks during each general session in a full-time residential program of high regard.

Partisan makeup of the Virginia State Senate, 1900–2019


The Senate of Virginia was created by the 1776 Constitution of Virginia, and originally consisted of twenty-four members.[1] 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 May 6, 1776.[2] The Senate replaced the legislative functions of the appointed Virginia Council of State.

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.[3]

In the 2007 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 lieutenant governor Bill Bolling, the Republicans effectively regained control.[4]

After the 2013 elections, Democratic state senator Ralph Northam became the lieutenant 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.[5]

The Democratic Party regained control of Senate after the 2019 election and new members were sworn into office on January 8, 2020.[6][7] As the legislative session opened, Louise Lucas was elected as the first female and African-American President Pro Tempore.[8][9]

Salary and qualifications[edit]

The annual salary for senators is $18,000 per year.[10] 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.[11]


Historical composition[edit]

Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic Republican Vacant
1900–1904 38 2 40 0
1904–1916 35 5 40 0
1916–1920 36 4 40 0
1920–1924 34 6 40 0
1924–1928 39 1 40 0
1928–1944 38 2 40 0
1944–1948 37 3 40 0
1948–1952 38 2 40 0
1952–1960 37 3 40 0
1960–1964 38 2 40 0
1964–1968 37 3 40 0
1968–1970 34 6 40 0
1970–1974 33 7 40 0
1974–1976 34 6 40 0
1976–1978 35 5 40 0
1978–1980 34 6 40 0
1980–1984 31 9 40 0
1984–1988 32 8 40 0
1988–1992 30 10 40 0
1992–1996 22 18 40 0
1996–2000 20 20 40 0
2000–2004 19 21 40 0
2004–2008 17 23 40 0
2008–2012 22 18 40 0
2012–2016 20 20 40 0
2016–2020 19 21 40 0
2020–2024 22 18 40 0

Current session[edit]

Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic AC[12][a] Republican Vacant
2016-2020 legislative session 19 21 40 0
End 20 39 1
Begin 2020 21 1 18 40 0
January 1, 2021[b] 17 39 1
April 2, 2021[c] 18 40 0
November 15, 2022[d] 17 39 1
January 18, 2023[e] 22 40 0
March 7, 2023[f] 21 39 1
April 11, 2023[g] 22 40 0
Latest voting share 55% 2.5% 42.5%


Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears
President pro Tempore Louise Lucas
Majority Leader Dick Saslaw
Minority Leader Tommy Norment

Committee chairs and ranking members[edit]

The Senate of Virginia has 10 Standing Committees and a Committee on Rules.[19]

Committee Chair Ranking Minority Member
Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Chap Petersen Emmett Hanger
Commerce and Labor Dick Saslaw Tommy Norment
Judiciary John S. Edwards Tommy Norment
Education and Health Louise Lucas Stephen Newman
Finance and Appropriations Janet Howell Tommy Norment
General Laws and Technology George Barker Frank Ruff
Local Government Lynwood Lewis Emmett Hanger
Privileges and Elections Creigh Deeds Jill Vogel
Rehabilitation and Social Services Barbara Favola Emmett Hanger
Rules Mamie Locke Tommy Norment
Transportation Dave Marsden Stephen Newman


District Name Party Areas represented First election
Counties Cities
1 Monty Mason Democratic James City (part), York (part) Hampton (part), Newport News (part), Suffolk (part), Williamsburg 2016
2 Mamie Locke Democratic 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 Republican Caroline, Essex, Hanover (part), King George (part), Lancaster, Middlesex, Northumberland, Richmond, Spotsylvania (part), Westmoreland (part) 2006
5 Lionell Spruill Democratic Chesapeake (part), Norfolk (part) 2016
6 Lynwood Lewis Democratic Accomack, Mathews, Northampton Norfolk (part), Virginia Beach (part) 2014
7 Aaron Rouse Democratic 2023
8 Bill DeSteph Republican 2015
9 Lamont Bagby Democratic Charles City, Hanover (part), Henrico (part) Richmond (part) 2023
10 Ghazala Hashmi Democratic Chesterfield (part), Powhatan 2019
11 Amanda Chase Republican[a] Chesterfield (part), Amelia Colonial Heights 2015
12 Siobhan Dunnavant Republican Hanover (part), Henrico (part) 2015
13 John Bell Democratic Loudoun (part), Prince William (part) 2019
14 John Cosgrove Republican Isle of Wight (part), Southampton (part) Chesapeake (part), Franklin (part), Portsmouth (part), Suffolk (part), Virginia Beach (part) 2013
15 Frank Ruff Republican Brunswick (part), Campbell (part), Charlotte, Dinwiddie (part), Halifax (part), Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Pittsylvania (part), Prince George (part) Danville (part) 2000
16 Joe Morrissey Democratic Chesterfield (part), Dinwiddie (part), Prince George (part) Hopewell, Petersburg, Richmond (part) 2019
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 David Suetterlein Republican Bedford (part), Carroll (part), Floyd, Franklin (part), Montgomery (part), Roanoke (part), Wythe (part) Salem 2015
20 Bill Stanley Republican Carroll (part), Franklin (part), Halifax (part), Henry, Patrick, Pittsylvania (part) Danville (part), Galax, Martinsville 2011
21 John S. Edwards Democratic Giles, Montgomery (part), Roanoke (part) Roanoke 1995
22 Mark Peake Republican Amherst, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Goochland, Louisa (part), Prince Edward Lynchburg (part) 2017
23 Stephen Newman Republican Bedford (part), Botetourt, Campbell (part), Craig, Roanoke (part) Lynchburg (part) 1995
24 Emmett Hanger Republican 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 Vogel Republican Clarke, Culpeper (part), Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun (part), Stafford (part) Winchester 2007
28 Richard Stuart Republican King George (part), Prince William(part), Spotsylvania (part), Stafford (part), Westmoreland (part) 2007
29 Jeremy McPike Democratic Prince William (part) Manassas, Manassas Park 2015
30 Adam Ebbin Democratic Arlington (part), Fairfax (part) Alexandria (part) 2011
31 Barbara Favola Democratic Arlington (part), Fairfax (part), Loudoun (part) 2011
32 Janet Howell Democratic Arlington (part), Fairfax (part) 1991
33 Jennifer Boysko Democratic Fairfax (part), Loudoun (part) 2019
34 Chap Petersen Democratic Fairfax (part) Fairfax 2007
35 Dick Saslaw Democratic Alexandria (part), Falls Church 1980
36 Scott Surovell Democratic Fairfax (part), Prince William (part), Stafford (part) 2015
37 David W. Marsden Democratic Fairfax (part) 2010
38 Travis Hackworth Republican Bland, Buchanan, Dickenson, Montgomery (part), Pulaski, Russell, Smyth (part), Tazewell, Wise (part) Norton, Radford 2021
39 George Barker Democratic Fairfax (part), Prince William (part) Alexandria (part) 2007
40 Todd Pillion Republican Grayson, Lee, Scott, Smyth (part), Washington, Wise (part), Wythe(part) Bristol 2019

District map[edit]

Virginia Senate District Map (2023)

Senate seal[edit]

The Senate of Virginia has its own coat of arms designed and granted by the College of Arms in England.[20][21] 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 early waves of European immigration.[20][21]

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),[22] and the dragon (part of the Elizabethan royal seal of England) represent Virginia's European heritage.[20][21]

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."[20][21]

Past composition of the Senate[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Amanda Chase is an enrolled Republican, and was elected in 2019 on the Republican line. On November 22, 2019, she announced that she would not caucus with the Republicans in the upcoming Senate session, although she still considers herself a Republican. (Chase also ran for the Republican nomination in the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election.)
  2. ^ Republican Ben Chafin (District 38) died.[13]
  3. ^ Republican Travis Hackworth was sworn in following a March 23 election to succeed Chafin.[14]
  4. ^ Republican Jen Kiggans (District 7) resigned after being elected to the U.S. House.[15]
  5. ^ Democrat Aaron Rouse was sworn in following a January 10 election to succeed Kiggans.[16]
  6. ^ Democrat Jennifer McClellan (District 9) resigned after being elected to the U.S. House.[17]
  7. ^ Democrat Lamont Bagby was sworn in following a March 28 election to succeed McClellan.[18]


  1. ^ "Constitution of Virginia, 1776" (PDF). Retrieved January 30, 2014.
  2. ^ "The General Assembly Adjourns (1776)". Encyclopedia of Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  3. ^ "House of Burgesses". Encyclopedia of Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  4. ^ Walker, Julian (November 9, 2011). "Virginia Republicans claim victory in state Senate". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 2013-01-25.
  5. ^ Vozella, Laura (2014-06-09). "GOP controls Va. Senate, will force budget deal". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ "Newly-Empowered Virginia Democrats Promise Action".
  7. ^ "Article - Chron".
  8. ^ "Opinion | Social issues will loom large in Virginia Senate - The Washington Post". The Washington Post.
  9. ^ "History-making new Va. House speaker cites passing of 'new torch' with focus on diversity, empowerment".
  10. ^ "Virginia State Legislature" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-09-12.
  11. ^ "Constitution of Virginia; Article IV; Section 6". Virginia Legislative Information Services. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  12. ^ "Sen. Amanda Chase leaves caucus after Norment elected as Senate minority leader". 2019-11-22. Retrieved 2020-01-06.
  13. ^ "A Virginia state senator, Ben Chafin, has died from complications of Covid-19". The New York Times. 2021-01-01. Retrieved 2023-04-17.
  14. ^ "Travis Hackworth sworn into office for Virginia's 38th Senate District seat". 2021-04-03. Retrieved 2023-04-17.
  15. ^ "Special election to fill Kiggans' Virginia Senate seat set for Jan. 10". 2022-11-15. Retrieved 2023-04-17.
  16. ^ "Aaron Rouse sworn into Virginia Senate". 2023-01-18. Retrieved 2023-04-17.
  17. ^ "Special election to fill McClellan's Virginia Senate seat set for March". 2023-02-22. Retrieved 2023-04-17.
  18. ^ "7 developments from Wednesday's Virginia General Assembly session". Richmond Times-Dispatch. 2023-04-13. Retrieved 2023-04-17.
  19. ^ "Legislative Committees". Legislative Information System. Virginia General Assembly. Retrieved 2016-01-14.
  20. ^ a b c d Official Virginia State Senate "Capitol Classroom" site Archived 2012-09-26 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed November 7, 2007.
  21. ^ a b c d Answers.Com: Virginia State Senate Seal; accessed November 7, 2007.
  22. ^ 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]