The Senate

The upper house of Tennessee's General Assembly is called the Senate. The state is divided into 33 senatorial districts, from each of which one senator is elected. Senators are elected to four-year terms with those from even-numbered districts being elected in the same general election, and those representing odd-numbered districts being elected two years later. Thus, about half of the 33 senators are standing for election at the same time. Re-election to the Senate is constitutionally permissible, as it is in the House, and there is no limit on the number of terms a legislator may serve.

To qualify for election to the Senate, one must be 30 years old, a U.S. citizen, a state resident for three years and a resident of the district in which he is elected for one year immediately preceding his election.

The leader of the Senate, or speaker, is also the state's lieutenant governor. The speaker of the Senate is elected by the Senate at each organizational session of the General Assembly. The lieutenant governor stands in immediate succession to the governorship if such is necessary.

Other leaders in the Senate include the speaker pro tem, deputy speaker and the majority and minority leaders, who are the primary spokesmen for their respective parties concerning Senate matters. Two other key Senate officers are the Democratic and Republican caucus chairmen, who preside over meetings of their political parties to consider and formulate party policy.

The Senate has certain powers and obligations that are different from those of the House of Representatives. The Senate is given the power to try impeachment proceedings initiated by the House. Any officer of the state may be impeached, but two-thirds of the Senate must concur before removal from office occurs.

Political makeup of the Senate of the 109th General Assembly is 28 Republicans and 5 Democrats.

The 109th General Assembly will convene on January 13, 2015.