Tennessee Senate

Last updated

Senate of Tennessee
Tennessee General Assembly
Seal of Tennessee.svg
Term limits
New session started
January 8, 2019
Speaker of the Senate
Randy McNally (R)
since January 10, 2017
Speaker pro tempore
Ferrell Haile (R)
since January 19, 2018
Majority Leader
Jack Johnson (R)
since January 8, 2019
Minority Leader
Jeff Yarbro (D)
since January 8, 2019
Tennessee Senate April 2019.svg
Political groups
Majority party
  •   Republican (27)

Minority party

Length of term
4 years
AuthorityArticle III, Tennessee Constitution
Salary$19,009/year + per diem
Last election
November 3, 2020
(16 seats)
Next election
November 8, 2022
(17 seats)
RedistrictingLegislative Control
Meeting place
State Senate Chamber
Tennessee State Capitol
Nashville, Tennessee

The Tennessee Senate is the upper house of the U.S. state of Tennessee's state legislature, which is known formally as the Tennessee General Assembly.


The Tennessee Senate has the power to pass resolutions concerning essentially any issue regarding the state, country, or world. The Senate also has the power to create and enforce its own rules and qualifications for its members. The Senate shares these powers with the Tennessee House of Representatives. The Senate alone has the power to host impeachment proceeding and remove impeached members of office with a 2/3 majority. The Tennessee Senate, according to the state constitution of 1870, is composed of 33 members, one-third the size of the Tennessee House of Representatives. Senators are to be elected from districts of substantially equal population. According to the constitution, a county is not to be joined to a portion of another county for purposes of creating a district; this provision has been overridden by the rulings of the Supreme Court of the United States in Baker v. Carr (369 U.S. 182, 1962) and Reynolds v. Sims (337 U.S. 356, 1964). The Tennessee constitution has been amended to allow that if these rulings are ever changed or reversed, a referendum may be held to allow the senate districts to be drawn on a basis other than substantially equal population.

Until 1966, Tennessee state senators served two-year terms. That year the system was changed, by constitutional amendment, to allow four-year terms. In that year, senators in even-numbered districts were elected to two-year terms and those in odd-numbered districts were elected to four-year terms. This created a staggered system in which only half of the senate is up for election at any one time. Senators from even-numbered districts are elected in the same years as presidential elections, and senators from odd-numbered districts are elected in the same years as mid-term elections. Districts are to be sequentially and consecutively numbered; the scheme basically runs from east to west and north to south.[ citation needed ]

Republicans attained an elected majority in the Senate in the 104th General Assembly (2005–07) for the first time since Reconstruction; a brief majority in the 1990s was the result of two outgoing senators switching parties.

Senate Speaker

According to Article III, Section 12 of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee, the Speaker of the Senate assumes Office of Governor in the event of a Vacancy. The Senate elects one of its own members as Speaker and the Speaker automatically becomes Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee. The Speaker appoints a Speaker Pro Tempore who presides over the Senate in the absence of the Speaker as well as a Deputy speaker to assist the Speaker in his or her duties. The current Speaker of the Senate and Lieutenant Governor is Randy McNally, who was elected to the position in 2017. One of the main duties of the Speaker is to preside over the Senate and make Senate committee appointments based upon ability and preference of members, seniority, and party representation. The Speaker also maintains the power to remove members from Committee appointments. The Speaker, in cohort with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, chairs the Joint Legislative Services Committee which provides assistance to the General Assembly. The Speaker also controls staffing and office space with Senate staff. The Speaker serves as an ex-officio member of all standing committees. [1]

Oath and qualifications of office

Oath of office

“I [name of official] do solemnly swear that, as a member of this, the [number, ex. One Hundred Eleventh] General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, I will faithfully support the Constitution of this State and of the United States, and I do solemnly affirm that as a member of this General Assembly, I will, in all appointments, vote without favor, affection, partiality, or prejudice; and that I will not propose or assent to any bill, vote or resolution, which shall appear to me injurious to the people, or consent to any act or thing, whatever, that shall have a tendency to lessen or abridge their rights and privileges, as declared by the Constitution of this state.” [1]

Qualifications for office

“No person shall be a senator unless he shall be a citizen of the United States, of the age of thirty years, and shall have resided three years in this state, and one year in the county or district, immediately preceding the election.” [1]

Composition of the 112th General Assembly (2021–2023)

(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Republican Democratic Vacant
End of previous legislature285330
Beginning of 112th GA276330
Latest voting share

Senate Leadership and Members

Senate Leaders [2]

Majority Party (R)Leadership PositionMinority Party (D)
Jack Johnson Leader Jeff Yarbro [3]
Ken Yager Caucus Chairperson Raumesh Akbari


DistrictNamePartyResidenceCounties represented
1 Steve Southerland Rep Morristown Cocke, Greene, Hamblen, and part of Sevier
2 Art Swann Rep Alcoa Blount and part of Sevier
3 Rusty Crowe Rep Johnson City Washington, Unicoi, and part of Carter
4 Jon Lundberg Rep Bristol Johnson, Sullivan, and part of Carter
5 Randy McNally Rep Maryville Anderson, Loudon, and part of Knox
6 Becky Duncan Massey Rep Knoxville Part of Knox
7 Richard Briggs Rep Knoxville Part of Knox
8 Frank S. Niceley Rep Strawberry Plains Claiborne, Grainger, Hancock, Hawkins, Union, and Jefferson
9 Mike Bell Rep Riceville Polk, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, and part of Bradley
10 Todd Gardenhire Rep Chattanooga Parts of Hamilton and Bradley
11 Bo Watson Rep Hixson Part of Hamilton
12 Ken Yager Rep Kingston Campbell, Fentress, Morgan, Rhea, Roane, Pickett, and Scott
13 Dawn White Rep Murfreesboro Part of Rutherford
14 Shane Reeves Rep Murfreesboro Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall, Moore, and part of Rutherford
15 Paul Bailey Rep Sparta Cumberland, Jackson, Overton, Bledsoe, Putnam, and White
16 Janice Bowling Rep Tullahoma Coffee, Franklin, Grundy, Marion, Van Buren, and Warren
17 Mark Pody Rep Lebanon Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon, Smith, and Wilson
18 Ferrell Haile Rep Gallatin Sumner, Trousdale, and part of Davidson
19 Brenda Gilmore Dem Goodlettsville Part of Davidson
20 Heidi Campbell Dem Nashville Part of Davidson
21 Jeff Yarbro Dem Nashville Part of Davidson
22 Bill Powers Rep Clarksville Stewart, Houston, and Montgomery
23 Jack Johnson Rep Franklin Williamson
24 John Stevens Rep Huntingdon Benton, Carroll, Gibson, Henry, Obion, and Weakley
25 Kerry Roberts Rep Springfield Cheatham, Dickson, Hickman, Humphreys, and Robertson
26 Page Walley Rep Bolivar Chester, Decatur, Fayette, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, McNairy, and Henderson
27 Ed Jackson Rep Jackson Madison, Crockett, Dyer, Lake, and Lauderdale
28 Joey Hensley Rep Hohenwald Giles, Lawrence, Lewis, Maury, Perry, and Wayne
29 Raumesh Akbari DemMemphisPart of Shelby
30 Sara Kyle Dem Memphis Part of Shelby
31 Brian Kelsey Rep Collierville Part of Shelby
32 Paul Rose Rep Covington Tipton and part of Shelby
33 Katrina Robinson Dem Memphis Part of Shelby

Senate Committees

The Tennessee State Senate has 12 committees in total: 9 standing Committees and 3 Select Committees. Committee assignments will be announced in the January, 21, 2020 organizational session: [4]

Standing Committees [2]
Committee NameChairVice-Chair
Commerce and LaborSen. Paul Bailey (R)1st Vice Chair: Sen. Art Swann (R)

2nd Vice Chair: Sen. Frank Nicely (R)

EducationSen. Brian Kelsey (R)1st Vice Chair: Sen. Jon Lundberg (R)

2nd Vice Chair: Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D)

Energy, Agriculture, and Natural ResourcesSen. Steve Southerland (R)1st Vice Chair: Sen. Frank Nicely (R)

2nd Vice Chair: Sen. Mark Pody (R)

Finance, Ways, and MeansSen. Bo Watson (R)1st Vice Chair: Sen. John Stevens (R)

2nd Vice Chair: Sen. Joey Helsely (R)

Government OperationsSen. Kerry Roberts (R)1st Vice Chair: Sen. Ed Jackson (R)

2nd Vice Chair: Sen. Janice Bowling (R)

Health and WelfareSen. Rusty Crowe (R)1st Vice Chair: Sen. Ferrell Haile (R)

2nd Vice Chair: Sen. Shane Reeves (R)

JudiciarySen. Mike Bell (R)1st Vice Chair: Sen. Dawn White (R)

2nd Vice Chair: Sen. Paul Rose (R)

State and Local GovernmentSen. Richard Briggs (R)1st Vice Chair: Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R)

2nd Vice Chair: Sen. Paige Walley (R)

Transportation and SafetySen. Becky Duncan Massey (R)1st Vice Chair: Sen. Bill Powers (R)

2nd Vice Chair: Sen. Mark Pody (R)

Select Committees
Committee NameChair
CalendarSen. Jack Johnson
EthicsSen. Ferrell Haile
RulesSen. Bo Watson

Past composition of the Senate

In 1921, Anna Lee Keys Worley became the first woman to serve in the Tennessee Senate. [5]

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  1. 1 2 3 Tennessee Blue Book.
  2. 1 2 Kleinheider, Adam (January 13, 2021). "New 112th TGA @tnsenate committee assignments made this morning by @ltgovmcnally. @BrianKelsey will chair Education. @SenatorBriggs moves to State & Local. @HaileforSenate is new Ethics chair". Twitter .
  3. "Tennessee's Senate Democrats elect Nashville's Jeff Yarbro as minority leader". The Tennessean. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  4. "Legislative Senate Committees - Tennessee General Assembly". www.capitol.tn.gov. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  5. "Anna Lee Keys Worley". National Women's History Museum. Retrieved August 5, 2018.

Coordinates: 36°09′57″N86°47′03″W / 36.1658°N 86.7843°W / 36.1658; -86.7843