In the United States, state senators are publicly elected officials who represent a specific geographic district within the state. In all states but Nebraska, state senators serve in the upper house of the state government’s legislature. State senators are required to be U.S. citizens and residents of the district they represent, but individual states may impose other requirements such as age minimums.
State senators are responsible for representing the constituents of their district in the state senate. For this purpose, the state senator and his staff might poll constituents about their opinions and read the emails and letters expressing their opinions that constituents write and send to the state senator. This feedback from voters helps formulate his priorities, gives him ideas for legislation to propose in the state senate, and influences how he should vote on others’ proposed legislation.
Attend to Constituents
State senators don’t just listen to constituents’ opinions and priorities; they also attend to, inform and help constituents. They might talk to constituents around their districts or in their state senate offices and give public speeches and provide official updates on their websites or through the press about their activities or specific proposed legislation. In addition, they or their staff might respond to or direct constituents who need help in the course of resolving a particular issue.
State senators are not required to propose legislation, but they can and should do so as appropriate in order to benefit and represent their constituents. To propose legislation, a state senator must draft a bill and propose it to the state senate. If it receives a majority, it will generally be sent on to the state’s house of representatives for consideration. A state senator might promote the bill to the press, his own constituents and his fellow senators, as well as answer questions about the benefits and the effects of the proposed bill.
Vote on Legislation
State senators vote on legislation proposed in the state senate. It is expected that they should vote only after carefully considering and weighing the benefits and effects of the legislation on their constituents. However, if they are not available to vote on legislation or do not wish to vote one way or the other, they may choose not show up for a particular vote or pronounce their abstention from voting.