State Senator – What do they do?

California State Senate

The California State Senate is the upper house of the California State Legislature. There are 40 State Senators. The state legislature meets in the state capital, Sacramento. The Lieutenant Governor is the ex officio  [1] President of the Senate. The officers of the Senate, elected at the start of each legislative session.state senate

Prior to 1968, state senate districts were restricted such that one county could only hold at most one seat. This led to the situation of Los Angeles County, with 6 million residents as of 1968, receiving 600 times less representation than residents of Alpine County and Calaveras County, some of California’s least populous counties. The federal Reynolds v. Sims decision by the United States Supreme Court compelled all states to draw up districts with equal populations. As such, boundaries were changed such that equal representation was provided.

Senators serve four year terms. The terms of the Senators are staggered so that half the membership is elected every two years. The Senators representing the odd-numbered districts are elected in years evenly divisible by four. The Senators from the even-numbered districts are elected in the intervening even-numbered years. Senators are limited to two terms.

Each Senator represents approximately 846,791 Californians, which is more than the approximately 639,088 residents in each of California’s Congressional Districts.

[1] ex officio: By virtue of office or position; ‘by right of office’. Often used when someone holds one position by virtue of holding another. A common misconception is that ex officio members of a committee or congress may not vote, but this is not guaranteed by that title.