The state is divided into 49 legislative districts, each home to approximately 35,000 people. Senators are elected to four-year terms and receive a salary of $12,000 a year.
A single Legislature exists for two years, called a biennium. There are two regular lawmaking sessions per biennium. Each regular session begins in January.
The biennium begins in odd-numbered years with a long session that consists of 90 working days. A shorter session is held in even-numbered years and consists of 60 working days. Long sessions usually last until mid-June, and short sessions usually last until mid-April. At the call of the governor, special sessions also may be held.
During session, a typical day for a senator could include a meeting over breakfast, a working lunch, visits with constituents, committee hearings, research, floor debate and conferences.
Senators also have obligations during the interim, including contacting constituents, conducting interim studies with committees, and developing and researching bills they plan to sponsor in the upcoming session.
A senator is called to:
- represent the people and the best interests of his or her legislative district;
- appropriate funds to further the state's progress and that of its citizens, protect property and persons, strengthen our productive capacity, and create new opportunities;
- right injustices involving the public;
- keep a careful check and set policy on the operation of state government;
- keep a forum where people can be heard;
- provide a means of access for a private citizen through the maze of government;
- propose constitutional amendments to be submitted for a vote by the people;
- establish state policy by introducing bills to create new programs, modify existing programs, and repeal laws which are no longer needed;
- observe the legislative rules of decorum and discipline, and encourage the promotion of the welfare and well-being of the citizens of the state;
- study legislation carefully;
- exercise legislative power to the best of his or her ability; and
- study problems between sessions and determine whether legislative solutions are needed to correct them.