California State Senate

Last updated

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


California State Senate
California State Legislature
Seal of the Senate of the State of California.png
Term limits
Elected before 2012:
2 terms (8 years)
Elected 2012 and after:
3 terms (12 years)
New session started
December 7, 2020
Eleni Kounalakis (D)
since January 7, 2019
Toni Atkins (D)
since March 21, 2018
Majority Leader
Robert Hertzberg (D)
since January 7, 2019
Minority Leader
Shannon Grove (R)
since March 1, 2019
California State Senate Composition.svg
Political groups
   Democratic (30)


   Republican (9)

  Vacant (1)
Length of term
4 years
AuthorityArticle 4, California Constitution
Salary$110,459/year + per diem
Nonpartisan blanket primary
Last election
November 3, 2020 (20 seats)
Next election
November 8, 2022 (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 relatively small legislature, 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 53 U.S. Representatives, each representing approximately 704,566 people, [1] while in the California State Senate, each of the 40 State Senators represents approximately 931,349 people. [2] This means that California State Senators each represent more people than California's members of the House of Representatives.

In the current legislative session, the Democratic Party holds 30 out of the 40 seats, which constitutes a 75% majority, well over the two-thirds supermajority threshold.


Prior to 1967, state legislative districts were drawn according to the "Little Federal Model" by which Assembly seats were drawn to according to population and Senate seats were drawn according to county lines. 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). 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 tem is Democrat Toni Atkins of San Diego. The Minority Leader is Republican Shannon Grove of Bakersfield.

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. [3]

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 a senator's duty to protect the liberty of the people").


Composition of the California State Senate, Previous Session (needs to be updated for 2020 election)
Democratic Party
Republican Party
Vacant California State Senate 2019-20.svg
Composition of the California State Senate, Previous Session (needs to be updated for 2020 election)
  Democratic Party
  Republican Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic Republican Vacant
End of previous legislature2911400
Begin [4] 309391
Latest voting share


Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis Democratic California
President pro tempore Toni Atkins Democratic 39th–San Diego
Majority leader Robert Hertzberg Democratic 18th–Van Nuys
Assistant majority leader Mike McGuire Democratic 2nd–Healdsburg
Majority whip Nancy Skinner Democratic 9th–Berkeley
Assistant majority whips Maria Elena Durazo Democratic 24th–Los Angeles
Scott Wiener Democratic 11th–San Francisco
Democratic caucus chair Connie Leyva Democratic 20th–Chino
Minority leader Shannon Grove Republican 16th–Bakersfield
Secretary Erika Contreras
Sergeant-at-Arms Jodie O. Barnett III
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 [5] Republican Bieber 2019Dagger-14-plain.png2024Previously served as Minority Leader of the California State Assembly
2 Mike McGuire Democratic Healdsburg 20142026
3 Bill Dodd Democratic Napa 20162024
4 Jim Nielsen Republican Red Bluff 2013Dagger-14-plain.png2022Previously served from 1978 to 1990
5 Susan Eggman Democratic Stockton 20202024
6 Richard Pan Democratic Sacramento 20142022
7 Steve Glazer Democratic Orinda 2015Dagger-14-plain.png2028
8 Andreas Borgeas Republican Fresno 20182030
9 Nancy Skinner Democratic Berkeley 20162024
10 Bob Wieckowski Democratic Fremont 20142022
11 Scott Wiener Democratic San Francisco 20162028
12 Anna Caballero Democratic Salinas 20182026
13 Josh Becker Democratic Menlo Park 20202032
14 Melissa Hurtado Democratic Sanger 20182030
15 Dave Cortese Democratic Los Gatos 20202032
16 Shannon Grove Republican Bakersfield 20182026Minority Leader
17 John Laird Democratic Santa Cruz 20202028
18 Robert Hertzberg Democratic Van Nuys 20142022Majority Leader. Previously served as Speaker of the Assembly
19 Monique Limón Democratic Santa Barbara 20202028
20 Connie Leyva Democratic Chino 20142026
21 Scott Wilk Republican Santa Clarita 20162024
22 Susan Rubio Democratic Baldwin Park 20182030
23 Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh Republican Yucaipa 20202032
24 Maria Elena Durazo Democratic Los Angeles 20182030
25 Anthony Portantino Democratic La Cañada Flintridge 20162024
26 Ben Allen Democratic Santa Monica 20142026
27 Henry Stern Democratic Malibu 20162028
28 Melissa Melendez Republican Lake Elsinore 2020Dagger-14-plain.png2022
29 Josh Newman Democratic Fullerton 20202028Previously served 2016-2018
30 Vacant
31 Richard Roth Democratic Riverside 20122024
32 Bob Archuleta Democratic Pico Rivera 20182030
33 Lena Gonzalez Democratic Long Beach 2019Dagger-14-plain.png2032
34 Tom Umberg Democratic Santa Ana 20182026
35 Steven Bradford Democratic Gardena 20162024
36 Patricia Bates Republican Laguna Niguel 20142022
37 Dave Min Democratic Irvine 20202032
38 Brian Jones Republican Santee 20182026
39 Toni Atkins Democratic San Diego 20162024President pro tempore. Previously served as Speaker of the State Assembly
40 Ben Hueso Democratic San Diego 2013Dagger-14-plain.png2022

Seating chart

Bogh Borgeas Dahle McGuire Hueso Archuleta Roth Eggman Pan Glazer Ben Allen Wiener
Moorlach Melendez Grove Nielsen Bradford Becker Portantino Rubio Gonzalez Limón Leyva Caballero
Jones Chang Wilk Bates Dodd Umberg Durazo Vacant Hurtado Skinner Stern Cortese
Laird Atkins Hertzberg Wieckowski

Past composition of the Senate


Current committees include: [6]




See also

Related Research Articles

Maryland General Assembly Legislative body of the State of Maryland, United States

The Maryland General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Maryland that convenes within the State House in Annapolis. It is a bicameral body: the upper chamber, the Maryland Senate, has 47 representatives and the lower chamber, the Maryland House of Delegates, has 141 representatives. Members of both houses serve four-year terms. Each house elects its own officers, judges the qualifications and election of its own members, establishes rules for the conduct of its business, and may punish or expel its own members.

Connecticut General Assembly American state legislature

The Connecticut General Assembly (CGA) is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Connecticut. It is a bicameral body composed of the 151-member House of Representatives and the 36-member Senate. It meets in the state capital, Hartford. There are no term limits for either chamber.

California State Assembly Lower house of the California State Legislature

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

Michigan Senate Upper state chamber of Michigan

The Michigan Senate is the upper house of the Michigan Legislature. Along with the Michigan House of Representatives, it composes the state legislature, which has powers, roles and duties defined by Article IV of the Michigan Constitution, adopted in 1963. The primary purpose of the Legislature is to enact new laws and amend or repeal existing laws.

Tennessee General Assembly

The Tennessee General Assembly (TNGA) is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Tennessee. It is a part-time bicameral legislature consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The Speaker of the Senate carries the additional title and office of Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee. In addition to passing a budget for state government plus other legislation, the General Assembly appoints three state officers specified by the state constitution. It is also the initiating body in any process to amend the state's constitution.

Alaska Senate

The Alaska Senate is the upper house in the Alaska Legislature, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Alaska. It convenes in the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau, Alaska and is responsible for making laws and confirming or rejecting gubernatorial appointments to the state cabinet, commissions and boards.

Maryland Senate

The Maryland Senate, sometimes referred to as the Maryland State Senate, is the upper house of the General Assembly, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Maryland. Composed of 47 senators elected from an equal number of constituent single-member districts, the Senate is responsible, along with the Maryland House of Delegates, for passage of laws in Maryland, and for confirming executive appointments made by the Governor of Maryland.

Missouri House of Representatives

The Missouri House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the Missouri General Assembly. It has 163 members, representing districts with an average size of 37,000 residents. House members are elected for two-year terms during general elections held in even-numbered years.

Kentucky General Assembly

The Kentucky General Assembly, also called the Kentucky Legislature, is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Kentucky. It comprises the Kentucky Senate and the Kentucky House of Representatives.

Nellie Pou

Nelida "Nellie" Pou is an American Democratic Party politician who has served in the New Jersey Senate since 2012, representing the 35th Legislative District. She previously represented the 35th district in the General Assembly. When Pou was sworn into the Assembly on January 29, 1997, to succeed Bill Pascrell, she became the first woman and the first Hispanic to represent the 35th district.

Utah State Legislature

The Utah State Legislature is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Utah. It is a bicameral body, comprising the Utah House of Representatives, with 75 state representatives, and the Utah Senate, with 29 state senators. There are no term limits for either chamber.

Nevada Assembly Lower house of the Nevada Legislature

The Nevada Assembly is the lower house of the Nevada Legislature, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Nevada, the upper house being the Nevada Senate. The body consists of 42 members, elected to two-year terms from single-member districts. Each district contained approximately 64,299 people as of the 2010 United States Census. Term limits, limiting assembly members to six 2-year terms, took effect in 2010. Twelve members of the Nevada Assembly were termed out with the 2010 election serving their last legislative session in 2011.

Nevada Senate Upper house of the Nevada Legislature

The Nevada Senate is the upper house of the Nevada Legislature, the state legislature of U.S. state of Nevada, the lower house being the Nevada Assembly. It currently (2012–2021) consists of 21 members from single-member districts. In the previous redistricting (2002–2011) there were 19 districts, two of which were multimember. Since 2012, there have been 21 districts, each formed by combining two neighboring state assembly districts. Each State Senator represented approximately 128,598 as of the 2010 United States Census. Article Four of the Constitution of Nevada sets that State Senators serve staggered four-year terms.

Oklahoma House of Representatives

The Oklahoma House of Representatives is the lower house of the legislature of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Its members introduce and vote on bills and resolutions, provide legislative oversight for state agencies, and help to craft the state's budget. The upper house of the Oklahoma Legislature is the Oklahoma Senate.

David Ellis Cogdill Sr. was a Republican politician who was the California State Senate Republican Leader, a post he held for 10 months from 2008 until he was replaced by State Senator Dennis Hollingsworth early in the morning on February 18, 2009 amidst a contentious mid-year budget debate. He served as a State Senator from California's 14th State Senate district for one term from December 2006 to December 2010.

United States Senate Upper house of the United States Congress

The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress, which, along with the United States House of Representatives—the lower chamber—constitutes the legislature of the United States. The Senate chamber is located in the north wing of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

Holly Mitchell American politician

Holly J. Mitchell is an American politician currently serving as a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Cathy Giessel

Catherine Andrea Giessel, is a Republican politician from the U.S. state of Alaska, serving since 2011. Giessel represents District N in the Alaska Senate, including Northeast Anchorage, Anchorage Hillside and the Turnagain Arm communities of Bird, Girdwood, Indian, and Anchorage, all within the Municipality of Anchorage. First elected in 2010 while identifying with Tea Party values, she has also served as the vice-chair of the state Republican Party and had a career in nursing. Following redistricting, she was elected to a different senate seat in 2012. Giessel serves as chair of the Resources Committee and is a member of the Senate Majority Caucus. After Senate President Pete Kelly was unseated in 2018, Giessel was elected president of the Alaska Senate.

Brian Dahle American politician from California

Brian Dahle is an American politician serving in the California State Senate. He is a Republican representing the 1st district, encompassing the Shasta Cascade region and the northern Sierra Nevada. Prior to being elected to the state Legislature, he was a Lassen County Supervisor for 16 years. He was first elected to the Assembly in 2012, and re-elected in 2014, 2016, and 2018. On June 4, 2019, Dahle won a special election to fill the State Senate seat vacated by Ted Gaines, who resigned after his election to the California Board of Equalization.


  1. "Apportionment Data". United States Census Bureau.
  2. "Senate Roster". State of California.
  3. "California Constitution Article 4; Legislative". California Office of Legislative Counsel . Archived from the original on February 23, 2019. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
  4. Democrat Holly Mitchell (District 30) resigned in order to take a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
  5. "Brian Dahle defeats Kevin Kiley in Tuesday's state Senate District 1 race". The Sacramento Bee. June 4, 2019.
  6. "California Senate Committees". Open States. Sunlight Foundation. April 9, 2014. Retrieved April 9, 2014.