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|Senate of Tennessee|
|Tennessee General Assembly|
New session started
Speaker of the Senate
Speaker pro Tempore
Length of term
|Authority||Article III, Tennessee Constitution|
|Salary||$19,009/year + per diem|
|November 4, 2014
|November 1, 2016
|State Senate Chamber
Tennessee State Capitol
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. Districts are to be sequentially and consecutively numbered; the scheme basically runs from east to west and north to south.
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.
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 Ron Ramsey, who was elected to the position in 2007. 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 109th General Assembly 2015–2017
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
|End of previous legislature||26||7||33||0|
|Latest voting share||84.8%||15.2%|
Senate Leadership and Members
- Speaker of the Senate/ Lieutenant Governor: Ron Ramsey
- Speaker Pro Tempore: Bo Watson
- Deputy Speaker: Steve Southerland
Majority Leadership (R)
- Floor Leader: Mark Norris
- Caucus Chairman: Bill Ketron
- Caucus Secretary: Becky Duncan Massey
- Caucus Treasurer: Ferrell Haile
Minority Leadership (D)