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Dec. 30, 2010

All 50 States and U.S. Territories Will Hold Legislative Sessions in 2011

DENVER - With the new year comes the start of legislative sessions for all 50 states and territories; 43 of those begin in January. Several will finish in only a few months, although eight states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands will meet throughout the year.

In 2010, only 45 state legislatures, the District of Columbia, Guam, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico met in regular sessions.

The length of states' sessions vary from a few months to most of the year. Illinois, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania are some of the states that meet throughout the year. Utah's session, by contrast, will last less than two months. Legislative session lengths may be unrestricted or limited and are set in a variety of ways. Currently, 11 states do not limit the length of a regular session. In the remaining 39, limits are set by constitution, statute, chamber rule or indirect method.  

Additionally, 7,382 elected members serve in the nation's 50 state legislatures. However, the number of legislators in each state varies dramatically, from New Hampshire's 400-seat House of Representatives to Alaska's 20-member Senate.

Republicans will control both houses of the legislature in 25 states, 11 more than they did going into the fall 2010 elections. Democrats will control 16 legislatures, with eight states facing divided control. The last time Republicans controlled this many legislatures was after the 1952 election, when they had 26. Republicans gained legislative seats in every region of the country in 2010, led by the Northeast where they picked up 229 seats. In 2011, there will be more Republican state legislators (3,941) than at any time since after the 1928 election, when they held 4,001 seats.

Legislators across the country will tackle a host of tough issues in 2011. They’ll have to set priorities, balance strained budgets, and contend with rising health care and education costs.

Click here for a list of state legislative sessions.

NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.