Virginia senate

Coordinates: 37°32′20.3″N 77°26′1.7″W / 37.538972°N 77.433806°W / 37.538972; -77.433806

Senate of Virginia
Virginia General Assembly
File:Virginia Senate Seal.png
Type Upper House
Term limits None
New session started January 11, 2012
Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, (R)
Since January 14, 2006
President pro Tempore Walter Stosch, (R)
Since January 12, 2012
Majority Leader Tommy Norment, (R)
Since January 12, 2012
Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, (D)
Since January 12, 2012
Seats 40
Political groups      Democratic Party (20)
     Republican Party (20)
Length of term 4 years
Authority Article IV, Virginia Constitution
Salary $18,000/year + per diem
Last election November 8, 2011
(40 seats)
Next election November 3, 2015
(40 seats)
Redistricting Legislative Control
Meeting place
State Senate Chamber
Virginia State Capitol
Richmond, Virginia
Senate of Virginia

The Senate of Virginia is the upper house of the Virginia General Assembly. The Senate is composed of 40 Senators representing an equal number of single-member constituent districts. The Senate is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. Prior to the American War of Independence, the upper house of the General Assembly was represented by the Virginia Governor's Council, consisting of up to 12 executive counselors appointed by the Colonial Royal Governor as advisers and jurists.

The Lieutenant Governor presides daily over the Virginia Senate. In the Lieutenant Governor's absence, a president pro tempore presides, usually a powerful member of the majority party. The Senate is equal with the House of Delegates, the lower chamber of the legislature, except that taxation bills must originate in the House, similar to the federal U.S. Congress.

Members of the Virginia Senate are elected every four years by the voters of the 40 senatorial districts on the Tuesday succeeding the first Monday in November. The last election took place in November 2011. There are no term limits for Senators.

In the 2007 Virginia state elections, the Democratic Party reclaimed the majority in the Senate for the first time since 1995, when the Republican Party gained a 20-20 split. The Republicans took control of the Senate for the first time in history after a January 1998 special election. The 2011 elections resulted in a 20-20 split between the parties, but as the tie breaker is Republican Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, the Republicans effectively regained control.[1]

Salary and qualifications

The annual salary for senators is $18,000 per year.[2] To qualify for office, senators must be at least 21 years of age at the time of the election, residents of the district they represent, and qualified to vote for General Assembly legislators.[2] The regular session of the General Assembly is 60 days long during even numbered years and 30 days long during odd numbered years, unless extended by a two-thirds vote of both houses.[2]


Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic Republican Vacant
Previous Session (2008-2012) 22 18 40 0
Begin 20 20 40 0
July 3, 2012[c 1] 19 39 1
September 17, 2012[c 2] 20 40 0
August 5, 2013[c 3] 20 19 39 1
August 16, 2013[c 4] 20 20 40 0
Latest voting share 50% 50%


Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling
President Pro Tempore Walter Stosch
Majority Leader Tommy Norment
Minority Leader Dick Saslaw

Committee chairs and ranking members

The Senate of Virginia has 11 standing committees.[3]

Committee Chair Senior Minority Member
Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Emmett Hanger Phillip Puckett
Commerce and Labor John Watkins Charles Colgan
Courts of Justice Tommy Norment Richard Saslaw
Education and Health Stephen H. Martin Richard Saslaw
Finance Walter Stosch Charles Colgan
General Laws and Technology Frank Ruff Charles Colgan
Local Government Ralph K. Smith Henry L. Marsh
Privileges and Elections Mark Obenshain Janet Howell
Rehabilitation and Social Services Frank Wagner Vacant
Rules Ryan McDougle Charles Colgan
Transportation Steve Newman Vacant


District Name Party Areas Represented First Election
Counties Cities
1 John Miller Democratic James City (part), York (part) Hampton (part), Newport News (part), Suffolk (part), Williamsburg 2007
2 Mamie Locke York (part) Hampton (part), Newport News (part), Portsmouth (part), Suffolk (part) 2003
3 Tommy Norment Republican Gloucester, Isle of Wight (part), James City (part), King William, King and Queen, New Kent, Surry (part), York (part) Hampton (part), Poquoson, Suffolk (part) 1991
4 Ryan McDougle Caroline, Essex, Hanover (part), King George (part), Lancaster, Middlesex, Northumberland, Richmond, Spotsylvania (part), Westmoreland (part) 2006
5 Kenny Alexander Democratic Chesapeake (part), Norfolk (part) 2012
6 Ralph Northam Accomack, Mathews, Northampton Norfolk (part), Virginia Beach (part) 2007
7 Frank Wagner Republican 2001
8 Jeff McWaters Virginia Beach (part) 2010
9 A. Donald McEachin Democratic Charles City, Hanover (part), Henrico (part) Richmond (part) 2007
10 John Watkins Republican Chesterfield (part), Powhatan 1997
11 Stephen H. Martin Chesterfield (part), Amelia Colonial Heights 1993
12 Walter Stosch Hanover (part), Henrico (part) 1991
13 Richard Black Loudoun (part), Prince William (part) 2011
14 John Cosgrove Isle of Wight (part), Southampton (part) Chesapeake (part), Franklin (part), Portsmouth (part) Suffolk (part), Virginia Beach (part) 2013
15 Frank Ruff Brunswick (part), Campbell (part), Charlotte, Dinwiddie (part), Halifax (part), Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Pittsylvania (part), Prince George (part) Danville (part) 2000
16 Henry L. Marsh Democratic Chesterfield (part), Dinwiddie (part), Prince George (part) Hopewell, Petersburg, Richmond (part) 1991
17 Bryce Reeves Republican Albemarle (part), Culpeper (part), Louisa (part), Orange, Spotsylvania (part) Fredericksburg 2011
18 Louise Lucas Democratic Brunswick (part), Greensville, Isle of Wight (part), Southampton (part), Surry (part), Sussex Chesapeake (part), Emporia, Franklin (part), Portsmouth (part), Suffolk (part) 1991
19 Ralph K. Smith Republican Bedford (part), Carroll (part), Floyd, Franklin (part), Montgomery (part), Roanoke (part), Wythe (part) Salem 2011
20 Bill Stanley Carroll (part), Franklin (part), Halifax (part), Henry, Patrick, Pittsylvania (part), Danville (part), Galax, Martinsville 2011
21 John S. Edwards Democrat Giles, Montgomery (part), Roanoke (part) Roanoke 1995
22 Thomas Garrett, Jr. Republican Amherst, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Goochland, Louisa (part), Prince Edward Lynchburg (part) 2011
23 Steve Newman Bedford (part), Botetourt, Campbell (part), Craig, Roanoke (part) Lynchburg (part) 1995
24 Emmett Hanger Augusta, Culpeper (part), Greene, Madison, Rockingham (part) Staunton, Waynesboro 1995
25 Creigh Deeds Democratic Albemarle (part), Alleghany, Bath, Highland, Nelson, Rockbridge Buena Vista, Charlottesville, Covington, Lexington 2001
26 Mark Obenshain Republican Page, Rappahannock, Rockingham (part), Shenandoah, Warren Harrisonburg 2003
27 Jill Holtzman Vogel Clarke, Culpeper (part), Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun (part), Stafford (part) Winchester 2007
28 Richard Stuart King George (part), Prince William (part), Spotsylvania (part), Stafford (part), Westmoreland (part) 2007
29 Chuck Colgan Democratic Prince William (part) Manassas, Manassas Park 1975
30 Adam Ebbin Arlington (part), Fairfax (part) Alexandria (part) 2011
31 Barbara Favola Arlington (part), Fairfax (part), Loudoun (part) 2011
32 Janet Howell Arlington (part), Fairfax (part) 1991
33 Mark Herring Fairfax (part), Loudoun (part) 2006
34 Chap Petersen Fairfax (part) Fairfax 2007
35 Richard L. Saslaw Alexandria (part), Falls Church 1980
36 Toddy Puller Fairfax (part), Prince William (part), Stafford (part) 2000
37 Dave Marsden Fairfax (part) 2010
38 Phillip Puckett Bland, Buchanan, Dickenson, Montgomery (part), Pulaski, Russell, Smyth (part), Tazewell, Wise (part) Norton, Radford 1998
39 George Barker Fairfax (part), Prince William (part) Alexandria (part) 2007
40 Charles William Carrico, Sr. Republican Grayson, Lee, Scott, Smyth (part), Washington, Wise (part), Wythe (part) Bristol 2011

Senate seal

The Senate of Virginia has its own coat of arms designed and granted by the College of Arms in England.[4][5] The coat of arms also makes up the official seal of the Virginia Senate. It bears no resemblance to the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which is the seal of the state as a whole.

The coat of arms adopted January 22, 1981 was designed by the College of Arms and supposedly based on the seal and coat of arms used by the London Company, the royally-chartered English entrepreneurs who funded the European settlement of Virginia. However, other than both devices displaying a quartered shield, there is little resemblance between them.

The Senate's arms have a shield in the center which is divided into four sections by a red cross. In each quarter are smaller shields representing the arms of four countries (England, France, Scotland, and Ireland.) that contributed settlers to Virginia's most early waves of European immigration.[4][5]

The four coats of arms, a small crest of a crowned female head with unbound hair representing Queen Elizabeth (the Virgin Queen who named Virginia,[6] and the dragon (part of the Elizabethan royal seal of England) represent Virginia's European heritage.[4][5]

An ivory gavel emblazoned on the vertical arm of the red cross represents the Senate as a law making body. The cardinal and dogwood depicted are Virginia's official state bird and tree. The ribbon contains the Latin motto of the Senate, Floreat Senatus Virginiae, which means "May the Senate of Virginia flourish."[4][5]


External links

  • Virginia General Assembly official government website
  • Project Vote Smart - State Senate of Virginia
  • Official Virginia Emblems Includes a very small version of the Seal of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Virginia
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