California State Senate

Last updated
California State Senate
California State Legislature
Seal of The Senate Of The State Of California.svg
Term limits
Elected before 2012:
2 terms (8 years)
Elected 2012 and after:
3 terms (12 years)
New session started
December 5, 2022
Eleni Kounalakis (D)
since January 7, 2019
Mike McGuire (D)
since February 5, 2024
Majority Leader
Lena Gonzalez (D)
since February 8, 2024
Minority Leader
Brian Jones (R)
since December 5, 2022
California State Senate Composition.svg
Political groups
   Democratic (32)


   Republican (8)
Length of term
4 years
AuthorityArticle 4, California Constitution
Salary$114,877/year + $211 per diem
Nonpartisan blanket primary
Last election
November 8, 2022 (20 seats)
Next election
November 5, 2024 (20 seats)
Redistricting California Citizens Redistricting Commission
Senatoris est civitatis libertatem tueri
("It is a senator's duty to protect the liberty of the people.")
Meeting place
California Senate chamber p1080899.jpg
State Senate Chamber
California State Capitol
Sacramento, California

The California State Senate is the upper house of the California State Legislature, the lower house being the California State Assembly. The state senate convenes, along with the state assembly, at the California State Capitol in Sacramento.


Due to a combination of the state's large population and a legislature that has not been expanded since the ratification of the 1879 constitution, [1] the State Senate has the largest population per state senator ratio of any state legislative house. In the United States House of Representatives, California is apportioned 52 U.S. representatives, each representing approximately 750,564 people, [2] while in the California State Senate, each of the 40 state senators represents approximately 931,349 people; almost exactly the population of the entire state of Delaware. [3] This means that California state senators each represent more people than California's members of the House of Representatives, and more than that of five entire U.S. states.

In the current legislative session, the Democratic Party holds 32 out of the 40 seats, which constitutes an 80% majority—well over the two-thirds supermajority threshold of 27.


The 1849 constitution of California provided that the "number of Senators shall not be less than one third, nor more than one half of that of the members of the Assembly..." [4] The 1849 constitution also provided that senators served two-year terms and were to be elected bienally, with the total number of senators being divided into two classes so that one half of the senators would be elected annually. [4]

Following the ratification of the 1879 constitution of California, the constitution prescribed that the senate is composed of 40 senators and that all senators must have resided within California for three years and their district for one year. [5] Such districts were to be "as nearly equal in population as may be, and composed of contiguous territory". There was to be one senate district for each senator. Such districts were also required to preserve political boundaries: "In the formation of such districts, no county, or city and county, shall be divided, unless it contain a sufficient population within itself to form two or more districts; nor shall a part of any county, or of any city and county, be united with any other county, or city and county, in forming any district." [6]

Between 1933 and 1967, state legislative districts were drawn according to the "Little Federal Model" by which Assembly seats were drawn according to population and senate seats were drawn according to county lines. [7] The guidelines were that no senate district would include more than three counties and none would include less than one complete county. This led to the situation of a populous county such as Los Angeles County (1960 population of 6 million) being accorded the same number of state senators (one) as less populous counties such as Alpine County (1960 pop. 397). The senate districts remained unaltered from 1933 to 1967, regardless of the changes in the population distribution. In Reynolds v. Sims , the United States Supreme Court compelled all states to draw up districts with equal population. As such, boundaries were changed to comply with the ruling.


The lieutenant governor is the ex officio president of the senate, and may only cast a vote to break a tie. The president pro tempore is elected by the majority party caucus, followed by confirmation of the full senate. Other leaders, such as the majority and minority leaders, are elected by their respective party caucuses according to each party's strength in the chamber.

The current president pro tempore is Democrat Mike McGuire of Geyserville. The minority leader is Republican Brian Jones of Santee.

Terms of office

Each state senator represents a population roughly equivalent to the State of Delaware. As a result of Proposition 140 in 1990 and Proposition 28 in 2012, members elected to the legislature prior to 2012 are restricted by term limits to two four-year terms (eight years), while those elected in or after 2012 are allowed to serve 12 years in the legislature in any combination of four-year state senate or two-year state assembly terms. [8]

Members of the state senate serve four-year terms. Every two years, half of the senate's 40 seats are subject to election. This is in contrast to the state assembly, in which all 80 seats in the assembly are subject to election every two years.

Meeting chamber

The red tones of the California State Senate chamber are based on the British House of Lords, which is outfitted in a similar color. The dais rests along a wall shaped like an "E", with its central projection housing the rostrum. The lower tier dais runs across the entire chamber, there are several chairs and computers used by the senate officers, the most prominent seat is reserved for the secretary who calls the roll. The higher tier is smaller, with three chairs, the two largest and most ornate chairs are used by the president pro tempore (right chair) and the lieutenant governor (left chair). The third and smallest chair, placed in the center, is used by the presiding officer (acting in place of the pro tem) and is rarely sat in as the president is expected to stand. There are four other chairs flanking the dais used by the highest non-member officials attending the senate, a foreign dignitary or state officer for example. Each of the 40 senators is provided a desk, microphone and two chairs, one for the senator, another for guests or legislative aides. Almost every decorating element is identical to the assembly chamber. Along the cornice appears a portrait of George Washington and the Latin quotation senatoris est civitatis libertatem tueri ("It is the duty of the senator to guard the civil liberties of the Commonwealth").


(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic Republican Vacant
End of previous legislature319400
Begin [9] 318391
Latest voting share

Past composition of the Senate


Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis Democratic California
President pro tempore Mike McGuire Democratic 2nd–Geyserville
Majority leader Lena Gonzalez Democratic 33rd–Long Beach
Assistant majority leader Angelique Ashby Democratic 8th–Sacramento
Aisha Wahab Democratic 10th–Hayward
Democratic Caucus Chair Monique Limón Democratic 19th–Santa Barbara
Majority Whip Dave Cortese Democratic 15th–San Jose
Assistant majority whips María Elena Durazo Democratic 24th–Los Angeles
Steve Padilla Democratic 18th–Chula Vista
Minority leader Brian Jones Republican 40th–Santee
Secretary Erika Contreras
Sergeant-at-Arms Katrina Rodriguez
Chaplain Sister Michelle Gorman, RSM

The secretary, the sergeant-at-arms, and the chaplain are not members of the legislature.


DistrictNamePartyResidenceFirst electedTerm limitedNotes
1 Brian Dahle Republican Bieber 20192024Previously served as Minority Leader of the California State Assembly and in the Assembly from 2012 to 2019.
2 Mike McGuire Democratic Geyserville 20142026President pro tempore since February 5, 2024. Majority leader before February 5, 2024.
3 Bill Dodd Democratic Napa 20162024Previously served in the Assembly from 2014 to 2016.
4 Marie Alvarado-Gil Democratic Jackson 20222034
5 Susan Eggman Democratic Stockton 20202024Previously served in the Assembly from 2012 to 2020.
6 Roger Niello Republican Fair Oaks 20222030Previously served in the Assembly from 2004 to 2010.
7 Steve Glazer Democratic Orinda 20152024Decided not to test the 12-year term limit in 2024.
8 Angelique Ashby Democratic Natomas 20222034
9 Nancy Skinner Democratic Berkeley 20162024Previously served in the Assembly from 2008 to 2014.
10 Aisha Wahab Democratic Hayward 20222034
11 Scott Wiener Democratic San Francisco 20162028
12 Shannon Grove Republican Bakersfield 20182026Previously served as Minority Leader from 2019 to 2021 and in the Assembly from 2010 to 2016.
13 Josh Becker Democratic Menlo Park 20202032
14 Anna Caballero Democratic Merced 20182026Previously served in the Assembly from 2006 to 2010 and 2016 to 2018.
15 Dave Cortese Democratic San Jose 20202032
16 Melissa Hurtado Democratic Bakersfield 20182030
17 John Laird Democratic Santa Cruz 20202028Previously served in the Assembly from 2002 to 2008.
18 Steve Padilla Democratic Chula Vista 20222034
19 Monique Limón Democratic Santa Barbara 20202028Previously served in the Assembly from 2016 and 2020.
20 Caroline Menjivar Democratic Panorama City 20222034
21 Scott Wilk Republican Santa Clarita 20162024Previously served as Minority Leader from 2021 to 2022 and in the Assembly from 2012 to 2016.
22 Susan Rubio Democratic Baldwin Park 20182030
23 Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh Republican Yucaipa 20202032
24 Benjamin Allen Democratic Santa Monica 20142026
25 Anthony Portantino Democratic Burbank 20162024Previously served in the Assembly from 2006 to 2012.
26 María Elena Durazo Democratic Los Angeles 20182030
27 Henry Stern Democratic Malibu 20162028
28 Lola Smallwood-Cuevas Democratic Los Angeles 20222034
29 Josh Newman Democratic Fullerton 20202028Previously served in the State Senate from 2016 to 2018.
30 Bob Archuleta Democratic Pico Rivera 20182030
31 Richard Roth Democratic Riverside 20122024
32 Kelly Seyarto Republican Murrieta 20222030Previously served in the Assembly from 2020 to 2022.
33 Lena Gonzalez Democratic Long Beach 20192032
34 Tom Umberg Democratic Santa Ana 20182026Previously served in the Assembly from 1990 to 1994 and 2004 to 2006.
35 Steven Bradford Democratic Gardena 20162024Previously served in the Assembly from 2009 to 2014.
36 Janet Nguyen Republican Huntington Beach 20222026Previously served in the State Senate from 2014 until 2018 and in the Assembly from 2020 to 2022.
37 Dave Min Democratic Irvine 20202032
38 Catherine Blakespear Democratic Encinitas 20222034
39 Toni Atkins Democratic San Diego 20162024President pro tempore until February 5, 2024. Previously served as Speaker of the State Assembly and in the Assembly from 2010 to 2016.
40 Brian Jones Republican Santee 20182026Minority Leader. Previously served in the Assembly from 2010 to 2016.

Seating chart

Niello Ochoa Bogh Hurtado Archuleta Smallwood-Cuevas Gonzalez Roth Dodd Alvarado-Gil Becker Wiener Allen
Grove Jones Seyarto Dahle Eggman Menjivar Portantino Rubio Limón Blakespear Min Stern
Nguyen Wilk Caballero Bradford Newman Umberg Laird Ashby Skinner Wahab Cortese Glazer
Padilla Atkins McGuire Durazo

Standing committees

Current committees, chairs and vice chairs include: [10]

CommitteeChairVice Chair
Agriculture Melissa Hurtado (D) Shannon Grove (R)
Appropriations Anthony Portantino (D) Brian Jones (R)
Banking and Financial Institutions Monique Limón (D) Roger Niello (R)
Budget and Fiscal Review Scott Wiener (D) Roger Niello (R)
Business, Professions and Economic Development Angelique Ashby (D) Janet Nguyen (R)
Education Josh Newman (D) Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R)
Elections and Constitutional Amendments Catherine Blakespear (D) Janet Nguyen (R)
Energy, Utilities and Communications Steven Bradford (D) Brian Dahle (R)
Environmental Quality Ben Allen (D) Brian Dahle (R)
Governance and Finance Anna Caballero (D) Kelly Seyarto (R)
Governmental Organization Bill Dodd (D) Scott Wilk (R)
Health Richard Roth (D) Janet Nguyen(R)
Housing Nancy Skinner (D) Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R)
Human Services Marie Alvarado-Gil (D) Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R)
Insurance Susan Rubio (D) Janet Ngyuen (R)
Judiciary Tom Umberg (D) Scott Wilk (R)
Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Lola Smallwood-Cuevas (D) Scott Wilk (R)
Legislative Ethics Dave Cortese (D) Shannon Grove (R)
Local Government Maria Elena Durazo (D) Kelly Seyarto (R)
Military and Veterans Affairs Bob Archuleta (D) Shannon Grove (R)
Natural Resources and Water Dave Min (D) Kelly Seyarto (R)
Public Safety Aisha Wahab (D) Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R)
Revenue and Taxation Steve Glazer (D) Brian Dahle (R)
Rules Mike McGuire (D) Shannon Grove (R)
Transportation Dave Cortese (D) Roger Niello (R)

See also

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  1. "California Constitution of 1879, prior to any amendments" (PDF). California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  2. "Apportionment Data". United States Census Bureau.
  3. "Senate Roster". State of California.
  4. 1 2 Cal. Const. Art. IV § 6 (1849)
  5. Cal. Const. Art. IV § 4 (1879)
  6. "California Constitution of 1879, prior to any amendments" (PDF). CalPolyPomona. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
  7. "JoinCalifornia - Redistricting". Retrieved 2022-02-22.
  8. "California Constitution Article 4; Legislative". California Office of Legislative Counsel . Archived from the original on February 23, 2019. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
  9. Democrat Melissa Hurtado (District 16) was prevented from being sworn-in until her 20-vote re-election was certified.
  10. "Committees". August 28, 2021. Retrieved August 28, 2021.

38°34′36″N121°29′37″W / 38.57667°N 121.49361°W / 38.57667; -121.49361