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Tennessee Senate

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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.

Senate of Tennessee
Tennessee General Assembly
Coat of arms or logo
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
Composition of the Tennessee Senate
Political groups
Majority party

Minority party

Length of term
4 years
AuthorityArticle III, Tennessee Constitution
Salary$19,009/year + per diem
Last election
November 6, 2018
(17 seats)
Next election
November 2, 2020
(16 seats)
RedistrictingLegislative Control
Meeting place
State Senate Chamber
Tennessee State Capitol
Nashville, Tennessee

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.

In 1921, Anna Lee Keys Worley became the first woman to serve in the Tennessee Senate.[1]

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. 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 (2005-2007) for the first time since Reconstruction; a brief majority in the 1990s was the result of two outgoing senators switching parties.


Senate SpeakerEdit

The Senate elects one of its own members as Speaker; the Speaker automatically becomes Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee. 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. The Speaker also controls staffing and office space with Senate staff. The Speaker serves as an ex-officio member of all standing committees.

Composition of the 111th General Assembly 2019–2021Edit

Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Republican Independent


with Republicans

Democratic Vacant
End of previous legislature 26 0 4 33 3
Begin 26 0 5 31 2
January 18, 2019[2] 26 1 5 32 1
Latest voting share 84.4% 15.6%

Senate Leadership and MembersEdit

Senate Leaders

Majority Party (R) Leadership Position Minority Party (D)[3]
Jack Johnson Leader Jeff Yarbro
Ken Yager Caucus Chairperson Raumesh Akbari
Whip Katrina Robinson
Floor Leader Brenda Gilmore


District Name Party Residence Counties represented
1 Steve Southerland Rep Morristown Cocke, Greene, Hamblen, and part of Sevier
2 Art Swann Rep Maryville 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 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 Nashville Part of Davidson
20 Steven Dickerson Rep Nashville Part of Davidson
21 Jeff Yarbro Dem Nashville Part of Davidson
22 Rosalind Kurita Ind 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 Dolores Gresham Rep Somerville 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 Dem Memphis Part of Shelby
30 Sara Kyle Dem Memphis Part of Shelby
31 Brian Kelsey Rep Germantown Part of Shelby
32 Vacant Tipton and part of Shelby
33 Katrina Robinson Dem Memphis Part of Shelby

Senate CommitteesEdit

The Tennessee State Senate has 12 committees in total: 9 standing Committees and 3 Select Committees. During the 111th General Assembly, they are:[4]

Standing Committees
Committee Name Chair
Commerce and Labor Paul Bailey (R)
Education Dolores Gresham (R)
Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Steve Southerland (R)
Finance, Ways, and Means Bo Watson (R)
Government Operations Kerry Roberts (R)
Health and Welfare Rusty Crowe (R)
Judiciary Mike Bell (R)
State and Local Government Steve Dickerson (R)
Transportation and Safety Becky Duncan Massey (R)

Select Committees
Committee Name Chair
Calendar Ed Jackson (R)
Ethics Richard Briggs (R)
Rules Bo Watson (R)

Past composition of the SenateEdit


  1. ^ "Anna Lee Keys Worley". National Women's History Museum. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  2. ^ "Newly-appointed Senator Rosalind Kurita accepts invitation to caucus with Republicans in Tennessee Senate". Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus. 2019-01-15. Retrieved 2019-01-17.
  3. ^ "Tennessee's Senate Democrats elect Nashville's Jeff Yarbro as minority leader". The Tennessean. Retrieved 2019-01-30.
  4. ^ "Legislative Senate Committees - Tennessee General Assembly". Retrieved 2019-01-15.

External linksEdit