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

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.

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 3, 2018
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
Composition of the California State Senate
Political groups
  Democratic (29)


  Republican (11)
Length of term
4 years
AuthorityArticle 4, California Constitution
Salary$110,459/year + per diem
Last election
November 3, 2020 (20 seats)
Next election
November 8, 2022 (20 seats)
RedistrictingCalifornia 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

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, Democrats currently hold a two-thirds supermajority of 29 seats, while Republicans hold 11 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 (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 officeEdit

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 chamberEdit

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
  Democratic Party
  Republican Party
29 11
Democratic Republican
Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic Republican Vacant
End of previous legislature 26 14 40 0
Begin 29 11 40 0
January 7, 2019[4] 28 10 38 2
June 4, 2019[5] 29 11 40 0
November 1, 2019[6] 10 39 1
May 18, 2020[7] 11 40 0
Latest voting share 72.5% 27.5%


Position Name Party District
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.


District Name Party Residence First elected Term limited Notes
1 Brian Dahle[8] Republican Bieber 2019  2024 Previously served as Minority Leader of the California State Assembly
2 Mike McGuire Democratic Healdsburg 2014 2026
3 Bill Dodd Democratic Napa 2016 2024
4 Jim Nielsen Republican Red Bluff 2013  2022 Previously served from 1978 to 1990
5 Cathleen Galgiani Democratic Stockton 2012 2020
6 Richard Pan Democratic Sacramento 2014 2022
7 Steve Glazer Democratic Orinda 2015  2028
8 Andreas Borgeas Republican Fresno 2018 2030
9 Nancy Skinner Democratic Berkeley 2016 2024
10 Bob Wieckowski Democratic Fremont 2014 2022
11 Scott Wiener Democratic San Francisco 2016 2028
12 Anna Caballero Democratic Salinas 2018 2026
13 Jerry Hill Democratic San Mateo 2012 2020
14 Melissa Hurtado Democratic Sanger 2018 2030
15 Jim Beall Democratic San Jose 2012 2020
16 Shannon Grove Republican Bakersfield 2018 2026 Minority Leader
17 Bill Monning Democratic Carmel 2012 2020
18 Robert Hertzberg Democratic Van Nuys 2014 2022 Majority Leader. Previously served as Speaker of the Assembly
19 Hannah-Beth Jackson Democratic Santa Barbara 2012 2020
20 Connie Leyva Democratic Chino 2014 2026
21 Scott Wilk Republican Santa Clarita 2016 2024
22 Susan Rubio Democratic Baldwin Park 2018 2030
23 Mike Morrell Republican Rancho Cucamonga 2014  2020
24 Maria Elena Durazo Democratic Los Angeles 2018 2030
25 Anthony Portantino Democratic La Cañada Flintridge 2016 2024
26 Ben Allen Democratic Santa Monica 2014 2026
27 Henry Stern Democratic Malibu 2016 2028
28 Melissa Melendez Republican Lake Elsinore 2020  2022
29 Ling Ling Chang Republican Diamond Bar 2018  2024
30 Holly Mitchell Democratic Los Angeles 2013  2022
31 Richard Roth Democratic Riverside 2012 2024
32 Bob Archuleta Democratic Pico Rivera 2018 2030
33 Lena Gonzalez Democratic Long Beach 2019  2032
34 Tom Umberg Democratic Santa Ana 2018 2026
35 Steven Bradford Democratic Gardena 2016 2024
36 Patricia Bates Republican Laguna Niguel 2014 2022
37 John Moorlach Republican Costa Mesa 2015  2028
38 Brian Jones Republican Santee 2018 2026
39 Toni Atkins Democratic San Diego 2016 2024 President pro tempore. Previously served as Speaker of the State Assembly
40 Ben Hueso Democratic San Diego 2013  2022
  •  : elected in a special election
  •  : elected in a recall election

Seating chartEdit

Morrell Borgeas Dahle McGuire Hueso Archuleta Roth Galgiani Pan Glazer Ben Allen Wiener
Moorlach Melendez Grove Nielsen Bradford Hill Portantino Rubio Gonzalez Jackson Leyva Caballero
Jones Chang Wilk Bates Dodd Umberg Durazo Mitchell Hurtado Skinner Stern Beall
Monning Atkins Hertzberg Wieckowski

Past composition of the SenateEdit


Current committees include:[9]


  • 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 alsoEdit


  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. ^ Republican Ted Gaines (District 1) and Democrat Ricardo Lara (District 33) resigned to take office on the State Board of Equalization and as State Insurance Commissioner, respectively.
  5. ^ Republican Brian Dahle (District 1) and Democrat Lena Gonzalez (District 33) elected to replace Republican Ted Gaines and Democrat Ricardo Lara.
  6. ^ Republican Jeff Stone (District 28) resigned to become Western Regional Director of the United States Department of Labor.
  7. ^ Republican Melissa Melendez (District 28) was sworn in to replace Jeff Stone, who had resigned to become Western Regional Director of the United States Department of Labor.
  8. ^ "Brian Dahle defeats Kevin Kiley in Tuesday's state Senate District 1 race". The Sacramento Bee. June 4, 2019.
  9. ^ "California Senate Committees". Open States. Sunlight Foundation. 2014-04-09. Retrieved 2014-04-09.

External linksEdit