Monday, May 14, 2007

Women of the House, and Senate

Every two years the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research publishes a guide to the legislature. It’s called “Article II” because that’s the article in the state Constitution that creates the N.C. General Assembly. It’s handy because there’s a lot of info including how lawmakers voted on key issues in the past, significant legislation they’ve sponsored and how they’ve fared in biennial effectiveness rankings. A lot of folks don’t like those rankings, but they’re more accurate than opponents can imagine.

One of the guide’s most helpful sections is short – a couple of pages - on legislative demographics and lawmakers' occupations. In the 2007 legislature, notes center director Ran Coble, North Carolina’s legislature has the 18th highest number of women of any state legislature – 43 out of 170 lawmakers, or 25 percent. There are seven women in the 50-member Senate, 36 in the 120-member House.

That’s not the news. What is news is their clout. They’re more powerful, the center says, with women chairing or co-chairing four of the six most powerful committees in the House and two of the six most powerful in the Senate. Among those in the House is Rep. Martha Alexander, D-Mecklenburg, cochairing the Appropriations Committee. And six of the seven House Appropriations subcommittees have women cochairs.

And there are more African American legislators – 28, or 16 percent of the legislature. That incudes eight in the Senate and 20 in the House. That’s a record number.

Other items of note:
-- There are a record number of retirees – 51 of the 170 members, about 30 percent. And since the November election, four legislators died and one (Rep. Jim Black) has resigned.
-- The number of self-employed legislators is the fastest rising occupation, the center says. There are 23 now, compared with 5 a decade ago.
-- The number of lawyers – down to 32 in 1995, is back up to 40.

Copies of the guide can be purchased for $25 by calling (919) 832-2839 or emailing tbromley@nccppr.org. Here's the center's website.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well North Carolina could have fooled me with those women statistics; This is really funny because it seems like the GOOD OLE Southern Boy system doesnt allow for that. It seems like there are more men than anything and they control; But the Stats dont lie and who would think BIBLE lothing People would let a women have a lead role, "My how time the are a changin".

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