California State Senate

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Coordinates: 38°34′36″N 121°29′37″W / 38.57667°N 121.49361°W / 38.57667; -121.49361

California State Senate
California State Legislature
Coat of arms or logo
Term limits
Elected before 2012:
2 terms (8 years)
Elected 2012 and after:
3 terms (12 years)
New session started
December 5, 2016
Gavin Newsom (D)
Since January 10, 2011
Kevin de León (D)
Since October 15, 2014
Majority Leader
Bill Monning (D)
Since December 17, 2014
Minority Leader
Patricia Bates (R)
Since April 12, 2017
Seats 40
Composition of the California State Senate
Political groups


  Democratic (27)


  Republican (13)
Length of term
4 years
Authority Article 4, California Constitution
Salary $104,118/year + per diem
Last election
November 8, 2016 (20 seats)
Next election
November 6, 2018 (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. Due to the state's large population and relatively small legislature, the State Senate has the largest population per representative ratio of any state legislative house. In the United States House of Representatives, California is apportioned 53 representatives, each representing approximately 704,566 people,[1] while in the State Senate, each of the 40 Senators represents approximately 931,349 people,[2] with the result that California state senators each actually represent more voters than California's representatives to the United States Congress do. Each member roughly represents a population 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]

The State Senate convenes at the California State Capitol in Sacramento.

In the current session, Democrats control 27 seats, comprising a two-thirds supermajority of the chamber. Republicans control 13 seats.


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 being accorded the same number of state senators (1) as less populous counties such as Humboldt County. 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 break a tied vote. 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 Kevin de León (24thLos Angeles). The minority leader is Republican Patricia Bates (36thLaguna Niguel).

Meeting chamber[edit]

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").


Position Name Party District
Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom Democratic
President pro tempore Kevin de León Democratic 24th–Los Angeles
Majority leader Bill Monning Democratic 17th–Carmel
Majority whip Nancy Skinner Democratic 9th–Berkeley
Majority caucus chair Connie Leyva Democratic 20th–Chino
Majority caucus vice chair Mike McGuire Democratic 2nd–Healdsburg
Minority leader Patricia Bates Republican 36th–Laguna Niguel
Minority caucus chair Jim Nielsen Republican 4th–Gerber
Minority whip Ted Gaines Republican 1st–El Dorado Hills
Secretary Daniel Alvarez
Sergeant-at-Arms Jodie Barnett
Chaplain Sister Michelle Gorman

The Secretary, the Sergeant-at-Arms, and the Chaplain are not members of the Legislature.


Composition of the California State Senate
  Democratic Party
  Republican Party
27 13
Democratic Republican
Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic Republican Vacant
End of previous legislature 26 13 39 1
Begin 27 13 40 0
Latest voting share 67.5% 32.5%

Seating chart[edit]

Wilk Anderson Moorlach Vidak Hueso Hernandez Roth Galgiani Hertzberg Wieckowski Pan McGuire
Morrell Stone Nguyen Bates Bradford Hill Lara Allen Mendoza Wiener Leyva Portantino
Gaines Nielsen Berryhill Cannella Fuller Dodd Jackson Mitchell Glazer Atkins Stern Beall
Skinner De León Monning Newman


Current committees include:[4]


  • Senate Committee on Agriculture
  • Senate Committee on Appropriations
    • Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Fiscal Oversight and Bonded Indebtedness
  • Senate Committee on Banking and Financial Institutions
  • Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review
    • Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Education
    • Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Resources
    • Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Health and Human Services
    • Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 4 on State Administration and General Government
    • Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 5 on Corrections
  • Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development
  • Senate Committee on Education
    • Senate Education Subcommittee on Sustainable School Facilities
  • Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments
  • Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications
  • Senate Committee on Environmental Quality
  • Senate Committee on Governmental Organizations
  • Senate Committee on Governance and Finance
  • Senate Committee on Health
  • Senate Committee on Human Services
  • Senate Committee on Insurance
  • Senate Committee on Judiciary
  • Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations
  • Senate Committee on Legislative Ethics
  • Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water
    • Senate Natural Resources and Water Subcommittee on Urban Rivers
  • Senate Committee on Public Employment and Retirement
  • Senate Committee on Public Safety
  • Senate Committee on Rules
  • Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing
  • Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs


  • Joint Committee on Arts
  • Joint Committee on Fairs, Allocation and Classification
  • Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture
  • Joint Committee on Legislative Audit
  • Joint Committee on Rules
  • Joint Legislative Budget
  • Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management


  • Senate Office of Research
  • Senate Office of Demographics
  • Senate Office of Floor Analysis
  • Senate Office of International Relations
  • Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Apportionment Data". United States Census Bureau. 
  2. ^ "Senate Roster". State of California. 
  3. ^ "Article 4. Legislative". California Constitution. California Legislative Counsel. Retrieved December 1, 2012. 
  4. ^ "California Senate Committees". Open States. Sunlight Foundation. 2014-04-09. Retrieved 2014-04-09. 

External links[edit]