This week, I would like to go over some interesting facts about the legislature in Tennessee. We are starting the 2nd Session of the 112th General Assembly. Each Legislative Session lasts for 2 years. We always convene on the 2nd Tuesday in January at noon and typically adjourn around the end of April or first of May. This is a big change in the last several years. My first year in Session was in 2010 and we didn’t adjourn until the end of June. Our state constitution has one requirement for us- pass a balanced budget each year. Unlike Washington, if the money isn’t there, we can’t spend it.
There are 99 State House members and 33 Senators in Tennessee. In 2022, each House member represents around 70,000 citizens and each Senator represents around 210,000. We have 9 Congressional members in Tennessee and each one of them represents around 767,000 constituents. Then we have 2 U.S. Senators and they both represent the whole state which is about 6.9 million citizens.
In the TN House of Representatives, the Republicans have a super majority of 73 members. The Democrats have the remaining 26 seats. The Senate also has a super majority with 27 Republicans and 6 Democrats. Representatives serve a 2 year term and Senators serve for 4 years. The even numbered Senate districts are all elected in the same year and then the odd numbered districts run 2 years later. We are set to have a primary in August of this year and the general election will take place in November. We will start completely over with the 113th General Assembly on January 10, 2023. Any bills that didn’t completely pass both chambers before we adjourn in 2022 will have to start all over from scratch. We had this happen to a few of our pieces of legislation back in 2020 when we had an abbreviated Session due to the pandemic. I had a few bills that were stuck in the last few stages of the process and we had to go back to square one in 2021.
Each House member can carry or present a maximum of 15 bills. Bills that address local issues only, such as changes to a city charter, or that honor an individual with a resolution or road/bridge naming do not count towards their 15. I think this is a good number and gives each member enough time to present and explain proposed legislation without overloading the system with frivolous bills. Many of the State Senators have 50-100 bills and have to really work long and hard to know and explain each piece of legislation. The first several years I was here, we could carry an unlimited number of bills and there were a few legislators that were known for carrying a lot of bad legislation. Now you really have to learn about your bills before you even file them and be very picky. Unless you feel really strongly about a bill, you aren’t going to let it take up one of your limited spaces.
We are a part time legislature, so most of our members are retired or employed back home. During Session, we arrive on Mondays after lunch for meetings and then hold an evening Session. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are typically spent in committees, and then we have an early Thursday morning Session before heading back to our districts. By the time Thursday gets here, we are ready to go home and back to our families. When we are out of Session, we typically only have to come back to Nashville a few days a month for special committee meetings or if we are called back by the Governor or 2/3rds of our members for a Special Session.
Before I came up here, I thought everything was closed off and private. I quickly learned that this is not the case. We are the people’s house and we are wide open for a visit. You can come view Floor Sessions or committee meetings anytime. You can also watch them live online or in the archives on our website- www.capitol.tn.gov.
During our health committee meeting this week, they told us that each family can now sign on to www.COVIDtests.gov and request 4 free at-home COVID tests. There is no cost for shipping and their website says orders will ship in 7-12 days. When you log on, it will take you to the United States Post Office’s (USPS) website to complete the transaction.
Please let me know if I can ever be of service to you or your family. You can reach my office by phone at 615-741-6824 or email at [email protected]. I’m honored to serve District 62 and appreciate your continued support.