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 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]

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

In the current session, Democrats control 26 seats, one short of 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 Toni Atkins (39thSan Diego). The minority leader is Republican Patricia Bates (36thLaguna Niguel).

Meeting chamber

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
26 1 13
Democratic V Republican
Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic Republican Vacant
End of previous legislature 26 13 39 1
Begin 27 13 40 0
February 22, 2018 26 39 1
Latest voting share 65% 32.5%


Position Name Party District
Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom Democratic
President pro tempore Toni Atkins Democratic 39th–San Diego
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.


District Name Party Residence First elected Term limited Notes
1 Ted Gaines Republican El Dorado Hills 2011dagger 2020
2 Mike McGuire Democratic Healdsburg 2014 2026
3 Bill Dodd Democratic Napa 2016 2024
4 Jim Nielsen Republican Gerber 2013dagger 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 2015dagger 2028
8 Tom Berryhill Republican Modesto 2010 2018
9 Nancy Skinner Democratic Berkeley 2016 2024
10 Bob Wieckowski Democratic Fremont 2014 2022
11 Scott Wiener Democratic San Francisco 2016 2028
12 Anthony Cannella Republican Ceres 2010 2018
13 Jerry Hill Democratic San Mateo 2012 2020
14 Andy Vidak Republican Hanford 2013dagger 2026
15 Jim Beall Democratic San Jose 2012 2020
16 Jean Fuller Republican Bakersfield 2010 2018
17 Bill Monning Democratic Carmel 2012 2020
18 Robert Hertzberg Democratic Van Nuys 2014 2022
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 Ed Hernandez Democratic West Covina 2010 2018
23 Mike Morrell Republican Rancho Cucamonga 2014dagger 2020
24 Kevin de León Democratic Los Angeles 2010 2018 President pro tempore from October 15, 2014, to March 21, 2018
25 Anthony Portantino Democratic La Cañada Flintridge 2016 2024
26 Ben Allen Democratic Santa Monica 2014 2026
27 Henry Stern Democratic Canoga Park 2016 2028
28 Jeff Stone Republican Temecula 2014 2026
29 Josh Newman Democratic Fullerton 2016 2028
30 Holly Mitchell Democratic Los Angeles 2013dagger 2022
31 Richard Roth Democratic Riverside 2012 2024
32 Vacant
33 Ricardo Lara Democratic Bell Gardens 2012 2020
34 Janet Nguyen Republican Fountain Valley 2014 2026
35 Steven Bradford Democratic Gardena 2016 2024
36 Patricia Bates Republican Laguna Niguel 2014 2022 Minority leader
37 John Moorlach Republican Costa Mesa 2015dagger 2028
38 Joel Anderson Republican Alpine 2010 2018
39 Toni Atkins Democratic San Diego 2016 2024 President pro tempore since March 21, 2018
40 Ben Hueso Democratic San Diego 2013dagger 2022
  • dagger elected in a special election

Seating chart

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

Past composition of the Senate


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


  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