Magazine article State Legislatures

Legislatures: All over the Map

Magazine article State Legislatures

Legislatures: All over the Map

Article excerpt

As most of the country's 7.383 state lawmakers prepare to dive into session, it's interesting to note the diversity among full- and part-time legislatures. But it's a bit tricky, to define the criteria. No matter the length of sessions, state lawmakers' work is full time. When not in regular session, legislators are assisting constituents, doing interim committee work, studying up on issues, campaigning, giving speeches, attending luncheons, returning phone calls and even tiding in parades.

Nevertheless, NCSL has grouped the 50 state legislatures into three major categories: Green, White and Gold. Green legislatures tend to be in states with larger populations and are the most full-time, with longer sessions bigger districts, larger staffs and higher salaries. White legislatures are hybrids, representing states in the middle of the population range, where lawmakers typically spend about two-thirds of a full-time job in their legislative roles and earn less money than their counterparts in green states. Gold state legislatures are in less populated, more rural states mad are often called traditional or citizen legislatures. Lawmakers in gold states tend to work part time, have few if any personal staff, and generally require other sources of income.

Trivial Pursuit

* New Hampshire's 400-member House is the largest state chamber in the country and pays members the least amount per year, $100.

* California legislators earn the most per year, $95,291:

* Forty-nine states and three territories (American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico) have bicameral legislatures--which include an upper and lower chamber.

* Nebraska, the District of Columbia, Guam and the Virgin Islands are unicameral, having only one chamber.

* Nebraska and American Samoa are the only nonpartisan legislatures in the country. …

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