Legislative Session Length

8/6/2020

state legislative chamber

Legislative session length may be unrestricted, or it may be limited. Session length limitations are set in a variety of ways. The limits may be found in constitution, statute or chamber rule. They also may set indirectly by restricting the number of days for which a legislator receives compensation, per diem or mileage reimbursement.

In the early 1960s, 17 states did not place restrictions on the length of their legislative sessions. In another 10 states, the limits were indirect. Several states increased their session length. These were Colorado (from 120 to 160); Georgia (from 80 to 85); Kansas (from 90 to 120); Minnesota (from 90 to 120); and South Dakota (from 60 to 75).

Throughout the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s, session limitations became more defined. Fewer states had unrestricted sessions, and the number of states with indirect session limits declined.

Since the late 1980s, several session lengths were shortened.  Colorado's session was cut to 120 days in 1988. In 1992, Louisiana changed its constitution to shorten and limit the scope of its even-year session. In 1998, the citizens of Nevada adopted a constitutional amendment that restricts the legislative session to 120 days. In 2002, an amendment to the Louisiana Constitution changed the timing of its general and fiscal sessions and adjusted the length of the fiscal session; the changes went into effect January 2004.  In 2006, Alaska voters passed an initiative establishing a 90 day session in statute, which took effect in 2008.

In November 2008, however, South Dakota voters approved a constitutional amendment that lengthened legislative sessions. The amendment equalized the length of session at 40 legislative days each year. Previously, session length was 40 legislative days in odd-numbered years, and 35 legislative days in even-numbered years.

Currently, only 11 states do not place a limit on the length of regular session. In the remaining 39, the limits are set by constitution, statute, chamber rule or indirect method.

Legislative Session Length
State Current Session Length Limit

Method of Setting

Alabama 30 L in 105 C

Statute

Alaska

90 C

Statute

Arizona

Sat of week in which 100th C falls

Chamber rule

Arkansas

Odd-60 C

Even-30 C

Constitution

California

Odd-None
Even-Nov 30

Odd-Sept 12

Even-Aug 31

Constitution

 

 

Chamber Rule

Colorado

120 C

Constitution

Connecticut

Odd-Wed after 1st Mon in June

Even- Wed after 1st Mon in May 

Constitution

Delaware

June 30

Constitution

Florida

60 C

Constitution

Georgia

40 L

Constitution

Hawaii

60 L

Constitution

Idaho

None

Not applicable

Illinois

None

Not applicable

Indiana

Odd-Apr 29

Even-Mar 14

Statute

Iowa

Odd-110 C

Even-100 C

Indirect

Kansas

Odd-None

Even-90 C

Constitution

Kentucky

Odd: 30 L or Mar 30

Even:60 L or Apr 15

Constitution

Louisiana

Odd-45 L in 60 C

Even-60 L in 85 C

Constitution

Maine

Odd-3rd Wed in June

Even-3rd Wed in Apr 

Statute

Maryland

90 C

Constitution

Massachusetts

Formal sessions:

Odd-3rd Wed in November

Even-July 31 

Informal sessions: None

Chamber rule

Michigan

None

Not applicable

Minnesota

120 L total within biennium or 1st Mon after 3rd Sat in May each year

Constitution

Mississippi

90 C except year after gubernatorial election,

then 125 C

Constitution

Missouri

May 30

Constitution

Montana

Biennial session; 90 L

Constitution

Nebraska

Odd-90 L

Even-60 L

Constitution

Nevada

Biennial session ; 120 C

Constitution

New Hampshire

45 L or July 1

Indirect

New Jersey

None

Not applicable

New Mexico

Odd-60 C

Even-30 C

Constitution

New York

None

Not applicable

North Carolina

None

Not applicable

North Dakota

Biennial session ; 80 L

Constitution

Ohio

None

Not applicable

Oklahoma

Last Fri in May

Constitution

Oregon

Odd-160C

Even-35C

Constitution

Pennsylvania

None

Not applicable

Rhode Island

None

Not applicable

South Carolina

1st Thurs in June

 

Statute

South Dakota

40 L

Constitution

Tennessee

90 L

Indirect

Texas

Biennial session ; 140 C

Constitution

Utah

45 C

Constitution

Vermont

None

 

Virginia

Odd-30 C

Even-60 C

Constitution

Washington

Odd-105 C

Even-60 C

Constitution

West Virginia

60 C

Constitution

Wisconsin

None

Not applicable

Wyoming

Odd-40 L

Even-20 L

Constitution

Key:

C = calendar day
 L = legislative day (that is, a day on which a floor session is held)