Tagstate houses

March 2021 partisan composition of state legislative seats — 54.3% Republicans and 44.9% Democrats

According to March’s partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States, 54.27% of all state legislators are Republicans, and 44.91% are Democrats.

Ballotpedia tallies the partisan balance of state legislatures, or which political party holds the majority of the seats in each chamber, at the end of every month. Republicans control 61 chambers, while Democrats control 37. One chamber (Alaska’s state House) has a power-sharing agreement between the two parties.

Republicans held 1,089 of the 1,972 total state senate seats—up five seats from February—and 2,918 of the total 5,411 state house seats—up one seat from last month. Democrats held 869 state senate seats (up three seats) and 2,447 state house seats (down two seats). Independent or third-party legislators held 38 seats. There were 22 vacant seats.

In March, Democrats saw a net increase of one seat, while Republicans saw a net increase of five seats. Compared to March 2020, Democrats have lost five state Senate seats (874 v. 869) and 139 state House seats (2,586 v. 2,447). Republicans have gained four state Senate seats (1,085 v 1,089) and 139 state House seats (2,779 v 2,918). 

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Republican-controlled Arkansas General Assembly overrides gubernatorial veto of bill prohibiting gender-affirming treatments for minors

On April 6, the Arkansas General Assembly overrode Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s (R) veto of House Bill 1570 (H.B. 1570), a bill prohibiting physicians and healthcare professionals from providing chemical or surgical gender-affirming treatments—including hormone therapy and puberty blockers—to individuals under the age of 18. The bill also prohibits providers from referring minors elsewhere in order to receive such treatments. Gender-affirming treatment, also known as gender reassignment treatment, refers to the process of changing a person’s body to conform with their gender identity.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Flippo (R), a proponent of the bill, described the prohibited treatments as “something that oftentimes could be irreversible,” adding that “it is not simply too much to ask to let [children’s] minds develop and mature a little bit before they make what could be a very permanent and life-changing decision.”

In his veto announcement, Hutchinson said the bill would create “new standards of legislative interference with physicians and parents as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive matters involving young people. … This would be, and is, a vast government overreach.”

Hutchinson vetoed H.B. 1570 on April 5. In Arkansas, a majority of votes in both chambers is required to override a gubernatorial veto. At the time of the veto, Republicans held veto-proof majorities in both the state House and Senate.

The House and Senate voted 71-24 and 25-8 in favor of the override, respectively. All Democrats, one independent, and three Republicans voted against the override. The remaining Republicans voted in favor of the override. Seven assembly members—one Democrat and six Republicans—did not vote.

This is the third noteworthy gubernatorial veto override Ballotpedia has identified in 2021.



Voters to decide New Hampshire House special election on April 13

A special election is being held on April 13 for the Hillsborough 21 District of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Wendy Thomas (D), Bill Boyd (R), and Stephen Hollenberg (independent) are running in the special election. The winner will serve until December 2022. The Hillsborough 21 District is a multi-member district made up of eight seats.

The seat became vacant after the death of state House speaker Dick Hinch (R) on Dec. 9 from complications caused by COVID-19. He was sworn in as House speaker on Dec. 2 and previously served as state House minority leader and state House majority leader. He was first elected to the state House in 2008.

New Hampshire has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the New Hampshire House of Representatives by a margin of 212-186, with two vacancies.

As of April 2021, 33 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. New Hampshire held 29 state legislative special elections from 2010 to 2020.

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Dori Hauck sworn in to North Dakota House of Representatives

Dori Hauck (R) was sworn in to the North Dakota House of Representatives to replace former Representative Luke Simons (R) on March 16. Simons, who had represented District 36 since 2016 and was reelected in 2020, was expelled from the House on March 4 following multiple misconduct allegations. 

Simons was the first lawmaker in state history to be expelled. According to Article IV, Section 12 of the state constitution, the House “may punish its members or other persons for contempt or disorderly behavior in its presence” and can expel members if two-thirds of the chamber concurs. The vote to expel Simons was 69-25.

Hauck served as secretary-treasurer of the District 36 Republican Party for eight years prior to her appointment. She will serve in the House until 2022.

In the North Dakota Legislature, vacancies are filled by the district committee of the party that holds the seat, and a replacement is named within three weeks. North Dakota is one of four states that fills vacancies by political party appointments. The others are Colorado, Illinois, and Indiana. Of the other state legislatures, 25 fill vacancies through special elections, 10 fill them through gubernatorial appointments, seven fill them through board of county commissioners appointments, three fill them by a hybrid-system, and in one state, Ohio, the legislative chamber fills them.

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Pennsylvania 60th House District Rep. Jeffrey Pyle (R) retires

Pennsylvania state Rep. Jeffrey Pyle (R) announced his immediate retirement on March 16, citing health issues. CBS Pittsburgh reported that Pyle was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2005 and had recently suffered a stroke.

Pyle was first elected as state Representative in 2005 and was re-elected seven times, most recently in 2020. He has also served as the mayor of Ford City, Pa., as a committeeman for Ford City’s Second Ward South of Armstrong County, and as a teacher in the Armstrong School District.

The special election to fill the District 60 seat will take place on May 18, which coincides with Pennsylvania’s statewide primary. On that day, voters will decide primaries for one seat on the Pennsylvania Superior Court and one seat on the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. Voters will also decide three statewide ballot measures.

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Filing deadline to pass for special election in Alabama House district

Candidates interested in running in the special election for District 78 of the Alabama House of Representatives have until March 23 to file. A primary is scheduled for May 25, 2021, and the general election is on September 7. The filing deadline for independent and minor party candidates is May 25.

The special election was called after Kirk Hatcher (D) was elected to the Alabama State Senate in a special election on March 2, 2021. He was elected to House District 78 in 2018 with 83.4% of the vote.

Alabama has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 26-8 margin with one vacancy and the state House by a 76-27 margin with two vacancies.

As of March 2021, 29 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year.

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Special election primary to be held in Louisiana House district

A special election primary is being held on March 20 for District 82 of the Louisiana House of Representatives. Raymond Delaney Jr. (D), Edwin Connick (R), and Laurie Schlegel (R) are running in the primary. The general election, if needed, is scheduled for April 24.

Louisiana elections use the majority-vote system. All candidates compete in the same primary, and a candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their partisan affiliation.

The special election became necessary after Charles Henry (R) resigned his seat on January 12. Henry was elected to the state House in 2019 with 70.5% of the vote.

Louisiana has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 27-12 margin and the state House by a 67-35 margin with two independents and one vacancy. Democrat John Bel Edwards was elected governor of Louisiana in 2015.

As of March, 29 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year.

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