Tennessee State Senate
|Tennessee State Senate|
|2015 session start:||January 14, 2014|
|Website:||Official Senate Page|
|Senate President:||Ron Ramsey, (R)|
|Majority Leader:||Mark Norris, (R)|
|Minority leader:||Jim Kyle, (D)|
Democratic Party (5)
Republican Party (29)
|Length of term:||4 years|
|Authority:||Art II, Sec 2, Tennessee Constitution|
|Salary:||$19,009/year + per diem|
|Last Election:||November 6, 2012 (16 seats)|
|Next election:||November 4, 2014|
|Redistricting:||Tennessee legislature has control|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 Elections
- 4 Redistricting
- 5 Senators
- 6 Senate Committees
- 7 History
- 8 External links
- 9 References
As of January 2015, Tennessee is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.
The Tennessee General Assembly, which the Senate is a part of, convenes on the second Tuesday in January on the years following elections as outlined by Article II, Section 8 of the Tennessee Constitution. The legislature is limited to 90 paid legislative days within a two year term.
- See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
In 2014, the Legislature will be in session from January 14 through May 1.
Major issues during the 2014 legislative session include education, guns in work parking lots, and requiring prescriptions for drugs used to make methamphetamine.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 through April 19. Republicans had a supermajority for the first time since the Civil War era.
Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included guns, school vouchers, and tax cuts to wine in grocery stores.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
In 2012, the Senate was in session from January 10 through May 1.
Republican legislators began the session by passing new congressional and state legislative maps, but redistricting may remain a major issue as Democrats have threatened a lawsuit over the new districts. Republican leaders said the session will focus on job creation and eliminating policies and regulations that restrict businesses, including the inheritance tax, and reforming unemployment insurance.
- See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions
In 2011, the Senate will be in session from January 11 through mid May. 
- See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions
In 2010, the Senate was in regular session from January 12th to June 10th. Additionally, the General Assembly met in special session from January 12th to January 25th to deal with educational issues related to Race to the Top funds.
Ethics and transparency
Open States Transparency
The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Tennessee was given a grade of C in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data is to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A -- Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
- See also: Tennessee State Senate elections, 2012
The signature filing deadline was April 5, 2012.
The following table details the 8 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.
|2012 Margin of Victory, Tennessee State Senate|
|District||Winner||Margin of Victory||Total Votes||Top Opponent|
|District 22||Mark Green||6.2%||60,220||Tim Barnes|
|District 20||Steven Dickerson||8.2%||85,534||Phillip North|
|District 10||Todd Gardenhire||8.6%||67,302||Andrae McGary|
|District 28||Joey Hensley||10.3%||67,736||Tyler Cobb|
|District 24||John Stevens||12.9%||68,474||Brad Thompson|
|District 26||Dolores Gresham||20.9%||71,121||Meryl Rice|
|District 16||Janice Bowling||25.9%||63,775||Jim Lewis|
|District 6||Becky Duncan Massey||37.3%||72,435||Evelyn Gill|
- See also: Tennessee State Senate elections, 2010
Elections for the office of Tennessee state Senate were held in Tennessee on November 2, 2010. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was April 1, 2010 and the primary election day was on August 5, 2010.
In 2010, the candidates for state senate raised a total of $4,275,730 in campaign contributions. The top 10 donors were:
|2010 Donors, Tennessee State Senate|
|Tennessee Democratic Party||$120,434|
|Herron, Governor Roy||$116,058|
|Tennessee Medical Association||$98,600|
|Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association||$61,250|
|Tennessee Bankers Association||$52,500|
|Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Tennessee||$46,000|
|Farris Mathews Branan Bobango & Hellen||$44,050|
- See also: Tennessee State Senate elections, 2008
Elections for the office of Tennessee State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 7, 2008, and a general election on November 4, 2008.
During the 2008 election, the total contributions to House candidates was $7,905,028. The top 10 contributors were:
|2008 Donors, Tennessee State Senate|
|Tennessee Legislative Campaign Cmte||$235,338|
|Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association||$197,000|
|Senate Republican Caucus of Tennessee||$129,500|
|Tennessee Medical Association||$116,750|
|Tennessee Association of Realtors||$115,000|
|Tennessee Keep Your Legislature Efficient||$107,400|
|Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 572||$98,775|
|Senate Democratic Caucus of Tennessee||$96,200|
|Tennessee Health Care Association||$84,500|
- See also: Tennessee State Senate elections, 2006
Elections for the office of Tennessee State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 3, 2006, and a general election on November 7, 2006.
During the 2006 election, the total contributions to House candidates was $5,784,749. The top 10 contributors were:
|2006 Donors, Tennessee State Senate|
|Senate Democratic Caucus of Tennessee||$235,654|
|Senate Republican Caucus of Tennessee||$214,000|
|Throckmorton III, Ray (Chip) T||$161,616|
|Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association||$112,500|
|Tennessee Medical Association||$71,700|
|Tennessee Republican Caucus||$70,000|
|National Healthcare Corp||$67,500|
- See also: Tennessee State Senate elections, 2004
Elections for the office of Tennessee State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 5, 2004, and a general election on November 2, 2004.
During the 2004 election, the total contributions to House candidates was $6,713,113. The top 10 contributors were:
|2004 Donors, Tennessee State Senate|
|Wilder Sr, John S||$335,000|
|Tennessee Legislative Campaign Cmte||$283,382|
|Senate Democratic Caucus of Tennessee||$160,800|
|Graves, Jo Ann||$120,850|
|Tennessee Conservative PAC||$93,500|
|Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association||$68,000|
|Senate Republican Caucus||$65,000|
|Tennessee Medical Association||$60,250|
- See also: Tennessee State Senate elections, 2002
Elections for the office of Tennessee State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 1, 2002, and a general election on November 5, 2002.
During the 2002 election, the total contributions to House candidates was $3,260,212. The top 10 contributors were:
|2002 Donors, Tennessee State Senate|
|Tennessee Legislative Campaign Cmte||$174,377|
|Senate Democratic Caucus Of Tennessee||$146,299|
|Tennessee Democratic Party||$92,056|
|Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association||$92,000|
|Tennessee Medical Association||$66,679|
|Tennessee Education Association||$60,311|
|Tennessee Employees Action Movement||$53,000|
|National Healthcare Corp||$48,500|
|Tennessee Bankers Association||$43,000|
- See also: Tennessee State Senate elections, 2000
Elections for the office of Tennessee State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 3, 2000, and a general election on November 7, 2000.
During the 2000 election, the total contributions to House candidates was $5,777,169. The top 10 contributors were:
|2000 Donors, Tennessee State Senate|
|Tennessee Republican Assembly PAC||$106,650|
|Senate Democratic Caucus of Tennessee||$105,647|
|Wall, Howard D||$101,150|
|Tennessee Legislative Campaign Cmte||$96,893|
|Tennessee Democratic Party||$96,215|
|Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association||$94,707|
|Tennessee Education Association||$54,441|
|Tennessee Employees Action Movement||$50,000|
To be eligible to serve in the Tennessee State Senate, a candidate must be:
- A U.S. citizen
- 30 years old before the general election
- A three-year resident of Tennessee before the general election
- A district resident for 1 year prior to the general election
- A qualified voter
- The following situations would eliminate a candidate from qualifying for office:
- Those who have been convicted of offering or giving a bribe, or of larceny, or any other offense declared infamous by law, unless restored to citizenship in the mode pointed out by law;
- Those against whom there is a judgment unpaid for any moneys received by them, in any official capacity, due to the United States, to this state, or any county thereof;
- Those who are defaulters to the treasury at the time of the election, and the election of any such person shall be void;
- Soldiers, seamen, marines, or airmen in the regular army or navy or air force of the United States; and
- Members of congress, and persons holding any office of profit or trust under any foreign power, other state of the union, or under the United States.
| How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures |
In Tennessee, there are two ways a vacancy can be filled in the senate. When twelve months or more remain in a unfilled term, a special election must be held within the allowable time frame set by law. If less than twelve months remain in the term, the current members of the senate must vote on a replacement.
- See also: Redistricting in Tennessee
The state's redistricting process is handled by the General Assembly, with the Governor wielding veto power.
The redistricting process began in January 2012; it was the first time in the state's history where the process was controlled entirely by Republicans. The two chambers passed maps, both of which Governor Bill Haslam signed. While Senate Democrats threatened a lawsuit, House Democrats went through with filing one in March, arguing that the House map unnecessarily split too many counties.
- See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries
As of 2013, members of the Tennessee Legislature are paid $19,009/year. Legislators receive $173/day per diem tied to the federal rate.
When sworn in
Tennessee legislators assume office the 15th of January following the election.
- See also: Partisan composition of state senates
|Party||As of January 2015|
The membership of the Senate elects a presiding officer, known as the Speaker of the Senate. The Speaker also serves as Lieutenant Governor. The Speaker appoints the officers of the Senate as well as the officers and membership of the standing committees.
|Current Leadership, Tennessee State Senate|
|Speaker of the Senate||Ron Ramsey||Republican|
|State Senate Speaker Pro Tempore||Bo Watson||Republican|
|Deputy Speaker of the Senate||Steve Southerland||Republican|
|State Senate Majority Leader||Mark Norris||Republican|
|State Senate Majority Caucus Leader||Bill Ketron||Republican|
|State Senate Minority Leader||Jim Kyle||Democratic|
|State Senate Minority Caucus Leader||Lowe Finney||Democratic|
List of current members
Tennessee Senate has 9 standing committees:
- Commerce and Labor
- Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources
- Finance, Ways And Means
- Government Operations
- Health and Welfare
- State and Local Government
- Transportation and Safety
Partisan balance 1992-2013
From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Tennessee State Senate for 12 years while the Republicans were the majority for eight years. Tennessee was under Republican trifectas for the final three years of the study.
Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.
Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states have divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.
SQLI and partisanship
The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Tennessee state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Tennessee experienced both Democratic and Republican trifectas during the years of the study. Its best ranking, finishing 21st, occurred in 2012 during a Republican trifecta. Its worst ranking, finishing 40th, occurred in 2004 during a Democratic trifecta.
- SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 34.00
- SQLI average with Republican trifecta: 23.00
- SQLI average with divided government: 31.71
- Tennessee Senate
- List of state legislative term limits
- Population in 2010 of the American states, accessed November 22, 2013
- Population in 2000 of the American states, Accessed November 27, 2013
- knoxnews.com, "Top issues facing Tenn. lawmakers in 2014," January 11, 2014
- Commercial Appeal, "Guns, wine, vouchers again in Tennessee legislature," January 5, 2013
- The Tennessean, "TN lawmakers gear up for fast session, re-election," January 8, 2012
- 2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar, NCSL
- 2010 session dates for Tennessee legislature
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- Follow the Money: "Tennessee Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions
- Follow the Money, "Tennessee 2008 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Tennessee 2006 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Tennessee 2004 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Tennessee 2002 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Tennessee 2000 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
- Tennessee Secretary of State, "Qualifications for elected offices in Tennessee," accessed December 18, 2013
- Tennessee Legislature, "Tennessee Constitution," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Section Article II, Section 15)
- U.S. Census Bureau, "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Tennessee's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting," March 16, 2011. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
- USA Today, Census 2010 - Tennessee, retrieved July 11, 2012.
- NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
- About the Tennessee Legislature
- Leadership of the Tennessee Senate
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