The number of women in U.S. state legislatures is on the rise, including in most Midwestern states

A record number of women will be serving in U.S. state legislatures in 2023, holding close to one-third of the seats in capitals across the country, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

In the Midwest, Illinois will have the highest percentage of state legislative seats held by women: more than 40 percent (exact totals in Illinois were uncertain as of early December due to two too-close-to-call legislative races). Three other states in the region eclipse the national rate of 32.2 percent: Michigan, Minnesota and Nebraska (see map).

In terms of representation in state legislatures, the greatest gains for women during the 2022 election cycle occurred in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and North Dakota. Between 2022 and 2023, the number of female legislators will fall in two Midwestern states: Ohio (-2) and South Dakota (-1).

Across the country this year, a record number of women were major-party nominees for state legislature (3,615), the center notes. Two states, Colorado and Nevada, now have majority-women legislatures, and 12 of the nation’s 50 U.S. governors (24 percent) are women, including Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. (All four of them were re-elected to office in 2022.)

In the U.S. Congress, women now hold a record-high 27.9 percent of the seats.

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Four legislators set to lead CSG’s Midwestern Legislative Conference in 2023

Michigan Sen. Roger Victory will serve as Midwestern Legislative Conference chair in the year ahead, joined by three other legislators on the MLC leadership team.

This team of state and provincial legislators formally took on their new leadership roles in December, at a meeting of the MLC Executive Committee. Ohio Sen. Bill Reineke is the new MLC first vice chair, Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly Speaker Randy Weekes the second vice chair, and Kansas Sen. Carolyn McGinn the immediate past chair.

They and the full MLC Executive Committee guide the work of the MLC — a nonpartisan association of all legislators in 11 Midwestern states as well as the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. (Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario are affiliate members.) CSG Midwest provides staff support to the MLC.


Michigan Sen. Roger Victory, MLC chair

Roger Victory was first elected to the Michigan Senate in 2018 after serving six years in the House. In 2022, he was chair of the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee and assistant majority whip. He owns Victory Farms LLC, a year-round specialty crop producer, as well as Victory Sales LLC, a national produce distributor.

Ohio Sen. Bill Reineke, MLC first vice chair

After serving three terms in the Ohio House, Bill Reineke won election to the state Senate in 2020. He served as vice chair of the Transportation Committee in 2022 and also is a leading legislative voice on education and workforce issues. Outside the legislature, Sen. Reineke is a business partner in Reineke Family Dealerships, a threegeneration family business.

Saskatchewan Speaker Randy Weekes, MLC second vice chair

Randy Weekes was first elected to the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly in 1999. He became speaker in late 2020, when fellow MLAs chose him for the position. In this role, he serves as the Assembly’s chief presiding officer. Speaker Weekes has decades of experience as a farmer, rancher and feedlot operator.

Kansas Sen. Carolyn McGinn, MLC past chair

Carolyn McGinn just completed her successful year’s tenure as MLC chair. A member of the Kansas Legislature since 2005, she is a respected leader on policies ranging from transportation and water, to budgeting and local government. In 2022, McGinn served as chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government. She is an agriculture producer and lives on a family farm with her husband, Mark.

In December, Kansas Sen. Carolyn McGinn was honored for her leadership and service over the past year as chair of the Midwestern Legislative Conference. She will remain a member of the MLC officer team. Michigan Sen. Roger Victory, pictured here with Sen. McGinn at the December meeting of the MLC Executive Committee, is the regional group’s new chair.


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Illinois Sen. Elgie Sims joins national leadership team of The Council of State Governments

Illinois Sen. Elgie Sims has joined a select group of state legislators and governors leading The Council of State Governments. He will serve as vice chair in 2023, and is in line to be chair-elect in 2024 and CSG chair in 2025.

In July, Sims was nominated by his peers in CSG’s Midwestern Legislative Conference to join the national leadership team. That nomination was approved in December at the CSG National Conference by the nonpartisan group’s Executive Committee.

A member of the Illinois General Assembly since 2012, and current chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sims served for four years as an MLC officer, including as chair in 2019. (CSG Midwest provides staff support to the MLC.)

Sen. Sims continues to be an active member of the MLC Executive Committee, and also is a 2014 graduate of its Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development, or BILLD, and a 2015 graduate of CSG’s Toll Fellowship Program.

In 2022, Wisconsin Sen. Joan Ballweg served as CSG past national chair and Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly as CSG past president.


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Southern Pulse Newsletter, November 2022

We are nearing the end of the year and with it the close of our suite of fall programming. Our office is catching our breath, thrilled at the resoundingly successful last few months between three Policy Masterclasses, CALS, SAGE, LSA and sending various publications to print – but happy to be heading into the holiday season! Thank you to everyone who attended any of our programs, and we hope you stay engaged going into the new year and beyond.

Working hard every day for you, our members, our small but mighty team is something I am so thankful to have, not just as the engine of our organization, but as dear colleagues and friends. CSG South is incredibly blessed with talent, drive, and passion, all in equal measure and providing the fuel to fulfill our mission as your nonpartisan regional resource. This alignment of purpose and mission is the beating heart of CSG South. Our values steer us through hectic months of traveling, program management, research, writing, strategic planning, and so much more. We are truly blessed, so let us give thanks!

Finally, I, along with the CSG South family, would like to take a moment to celebrate the life and legacy of one of our dearest supporters and yearslong member, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston. During his career in the Georgia House, Speaker Ralston was steadfast in extending the virtue of civility both across the aisle and within his chamber. He treated everyone he came across with respect, regardless of background, constituency, or political party. Beyond exemplifying the kinds of qualities all elected officials work to express during their tenure, Speaker Ralston was full of humor and laughter and was a dedicated family man and friend. We thank Speaker Ralston for sharing his life with us, and we extend our deepest condolences to his beloved wife and children.

To all of our members, I wish you a blessed, peaceful and bountiful holiday season surrounded by friends and loved ones. And for those we will see at the CSG National Conference next week – aloha!

Click here to read Southern Pulse- November 2022

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