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Civics 101: What is the Tennessee General Assembly?

Hank Hayes • Aug 6, 2018 at 12:30 PM

With this year’s elections in mind, it’s a good time to take a brief look at the Tennessee General Assembly.

Tennessee’s General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives. It meets in Nashville each year, beginning at noon on the second Tuesday of January. Its primary function is to make laws.

ITS FIRST MEETING

The General Assembly first met in Knoxville in the winter of 1796, and on June 1 of that year, Tennessee became the 16th state in the union.

Each General Assembly meets 90 session days over a two-year period. Generally, legislative sessions last from mid-January through late April or May of each year.

The General Assembly has 33 senators and 99 representatives. The 110th General Assembly Senate is composed of 28 Republicans and 5 Democrats elected to four-year terms.

The 110th General Assembly House of Representatives is composed of 73 Republicans and 26 Democrats elected in even-numbered years to two-year terms.

The Tennessee Constitution requires that election for senators and representatives be held once every two years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of even-numbered years.

FAMOUS MEMBERS

A number of members of the Tennessee General Assembly went on to achieve national fame. They include Presidents James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson; famous pioneer Davy Crockett; and the late Congressmen Howard Baker Sr., Jimmy Quillen and Cordell Hull, who served as U.S. secretary of state.

Source: Tennessee General Assembly, Tennessee Blue Book

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