Tennessee Senate

Senate of Tennessee
Tennessee General Assembly
Coat of arms or logo
Term limits
New session started
January 2015
Speaker of the Senate
Ron Ramsey (R)
Since January 9, 2007
Speaker pro Tempore
Bo Watson (R)
Since January 10, 2012
Majority Leader
Mark Norris (R)
Since January 9, 2007
Minority Leader
Lee Harris (D)
Since January 2015
Seats 33
Composition of the Tennessee Senate
Political groups

Governing party

Opposition party

Length of term
4 years
Authority Article III, Tennessee Constitution
Salary $19,009/year + per diem
Last election
November 4, 2014
(17 seats)
Next election
November 1, 2016
(16 seats)
Redistricting Legislative 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, 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 women 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.

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 Speaker

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

Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Republican Democratic Vacant
End of previous legislature 26 7 33 0
Begin 28 5 33 0
Latest voting share 84.8% 15.2%

Senate Leadership and Members

Senate Leaders

Majority Leadership (R)

Minority Leadership (D)

Senate Members

District Name Party Residence
1 Steve Southerland Republican Morristown
2 Doug Overbey Republican Maryville
3 Rusty Crowe Republican Johnson City
4 Ron Ramsey, Speaker Republican Blountville
5 Randy McNally Republican Oak Ridge
6 Becky Duncan Massey Republican Knoxville
7 Richard Briggs Republican Knoxville
8 Frank Niceley Republican Strawberry Plains
9 Mike Bell Republican Riceville
10 Todd Gardenhire Republican Chattanooga
11 Bo Watson Republican Hixson
12 Ken Yager Republican Harriman
13 Bill Ketron Republican Murfreesboro
14 Jim Tracy Republican Shelbyville
15 Paul Bailey Republican Sparta
16 Janice Bowling Republican Tullahoma
17 Mae Beavers Republican Mt. Juliet
18 Ferrell Haile Republican Gallatin
19 Thelma Harper Democratic Nashville
20 Steven Dickerson Republican Nashville
21 Jeff Yarbro Democratic Nashville
22 Mark Green Republican Clarksville
23 Jack Johnson Republican Franklin
24 John Stevens Republican Huntingdon
25 Kerry Roberts Republican Springfield
26 Dolores Gresham Republican Somerville
27 Ed Jackson Republican Jackson
28 Joey Hensley Republican Hohenwald
29 Lee Harris Democratic Memphis
30 Sara Kyle Democratic Memphis
31 Brian Kelsey Republican Germantown
32 Mark Norris Republican Collierville
33 Reginald Tate Democratic Memphis


  1. "Anna Lee Keys Worley". National Women's History Museum. Retrieved March 2016. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)

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