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Government of Tennessee

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The State Constitution of Tennessee is the guardian of the Government of Tennessee as the government is structured and established by the State Constitution of Tennessee[1]. The State Constitution of Tennessee distributes the powers of the government into three distinct branches—the executive, the legislative and the judicial.

Tennessee Executive Branch

The Tennessee Constitution vests the Supreme Executive Power of the state with the Governor. The governor and his executive branch agencies administer laws and mandates and programs created by the General Assembly. The duties of the Governor include:

  • The Governor exercises the supreme executive power of the state.
  • The governor is responsible for law enforcement, tax collection and the general well-being of citizens.
  • The Governor is the commander-in-chief of the Army, the Navy and the Militia.
  • He takes care that the laws are faithfully executed.

Qualifications of the Governor

  • The governor should be at least 30 years of age.
  • The Governor should be a citizen of the United States and shall have been a resident of the state seven years next before his election.
  • The governor should hold office for four years and until a successor is elected and qualified.

Contact Details
Office of the Governor
1st Floor, State Capitol
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-2001
Website: http://www.tn.gov/governor/

Office of the Attorney General and Reporter

The Tennessee attorney general is the chief legal officer of the state. The attorney general represents the officers and agencies of the state in all civil litigation before state and federal courts. He prosecutes all criminal cases in the appellate courts and also exercises original prosecutorial powers in the areas of state contract fraud and securities. The attorney general is appointed for an eight-year term by the justices of the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Contact Details
Office of the Attorney General and Reporter
P.O. Box 20207
Nashville, TN 37202-0207
Phone: (615) 741-3491
Website: http://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/

Secretary of State

The Secretary of State is elected for a four year term by the General Assembly. He is responsible for the registration of trademarks and service marks, the chartering of corporation, and the administration of elections.

Contact Details

Secretary of State
State Capitol
Nashville, TN 37243-1102
Phone: (615) 741-2819
Website: http://www.tn.gov/sos/

Comptroller of the Treasury

The Comptroller of the Treasury is elected for a two-year term by a joint vote of both Houses of the General Assembly. The state law prescribes the duties of the Comptroller which include participation in the general financial and administrative management and oversight of state government and the audit of state and local governmental entities. The Comptroller also is a member of various committees, boards and authorities

Contact Details
Comptroller of the Treasury
State Capitol
Nashville, TN 37243-9034
Phone: (615) 741-2775
Website: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/

Tennessee Legislative Branch

The Constitution vests the legislative authority of the state in the General Assembly. The General Assembly therefore, has the sole authority to pass laws. Tennessee has a bicameral legislature consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The Senate is the upper house of Tennessee’s General Assembly. The Senators are elected to four-year terms[2]. For State Houseone to be qualified for election to the Senate he must be 30 years old, must be a US citizen, a resident of state for three years and a resident of the district in which elected for one year immediately preceding election. The leader of the Senate is also the state’s lieutenant governor. The Senate's speaker is elected by the Senate at each organizational session of the General Assembly.

The House of Representatives is the lower house of Tennessee’s bicameral legislature and consists of 99 representatives[3]. The representatives are elected to two-year term. One to be qualified for election to the House must be 21 years old, a state resident for three years, a U.S. citizen, and a resident of the county in which elected for one year immediately preceding the election. A speaker and a speaker pro tempore are elected during the organizational session of the House. The speaker of the House of Representatives is the presiding officer of the House and serves a two-year term. The House of Representatives has non-lawmaking powers.

Tennessee Judicial Branch

According to Tennessee Constitution the judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court and other courts established by the Legislature. The judiciary of Tennessee consists of three appellate courts-- the Supreme Court, court of appeals and court of criminal appeals. It further composes of four trial courts of general jurisdiction-- the chancery court, probate court, circuit court and criminal court. There is again three courts of limited jurisdiction-- the juvenile court, general sessions court and municipal court.

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Tennessee is the state’s court of last resort. The justices of the court accept appeals of civil and criminal cases from lower state courts. The Supreme Court has authority on undecided cases in the Court of Criminal Appeals or Court of Appeals. Justices also interpret the laws and constitutions of Tennessee and the United States. The Supreme Court consists of five judges. The judges designate one of their own numbers to preside as the Chief Justice. A qualified Judge of the Supreme Court shall be thirty-five years of age, and have been a resident of the state for five years. He holds office for a term of eight years.

Contact Details
Supreme Court
401 Seventh Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37219-1407
Phone: (615) 253-1470
Website: www.tncourts.gov

Court of Appeals

The Court of Appeals handles civil or non criminal cases that are appealed from trial courts and certain state commissions and boards. The court consists of 12 members. All decisions made by the Court of Appeals may be appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Contact Details
Appellate Court Office
Supreme Court Building
6 Hwy 45 Bypass
Jackson, TN 38302
Phone: (731) 423-5840
Fax: (731) 423-6453

Court of Criminal Appeals

The Court of Criminal Appeals hears misdemeanor and felony cases and post-conviction petitions. All decisions made by the Court of Criminal Appeals may be appealed to the state Supreme Court, except in capital cases which are appealed automatically.

Trial Courts

The judiciary composes of four trial courts of general jurisdiction-- the chancery court, probate court, circuit court and criminal court. Circuit court hears civil and criminal cases and appeals of decisions from Municipal, Juvenile and General Sessions Courts. Chancery Courts handle issues including contract disputes, lawsuits, name changes and application for injunctions. Criminal Courts work to relieve circuit courts in areas with heavy caseloads. Probate Courts are given jurisdiction over probate of wills and administration of estates.

Juvenile and Family Courts

The jurisdiction of the Juvenile and Family Courts applies to the protection of the juvenile and the family.

Contact Details

Tennessee Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
511 Union Street, Suite 600
Nashville, TN 37219
Phone: (615) 741-2687

General Sessions Court

General Sessions Court hears both civil and criminal cases.

Municipal courts

Municipal courts also called city courts, hear cases involving violations of municipal ordinances. These courts hear speeding tickets and other traffic violations.

Contact Details

Administrative Office of the Courts
511 Union Street
Nashville City Center, Suite 600
Nashville, TN 37219
Phone: (615) 741-2687

Tennessee Taxation


The Tennessee Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and the collection of taxes and fees. Tax laws include entire laws and taxes on sales, property, luxury, estate and other services.

Important Tax Rates in Tennessee[4]

  • Beer Wholesale Tax rate: $35.60 per barrel
  • Franchise tax rate: .25%
  • Excise tax rate: 6.5%
  • Alcoholic Beverage: $4.40 per gallon (Distilled Spirits), $1.21 per gallon (Wine)
  • Automobile rental surcharge tax: 3% of the gross proceeds
  • Cigarette Tax: $0.62 per pack of 20s
  • Tax on Other Tobacco Products: 6.6% of the wholesale cost
  • State Tax: sales tax rate on food- 5%

Tennessee State Departments

Various state departments operate in Tennessee to ensure progress and development of the state. These departments work smoothly in coordination with each other for the better function of the government. Some of the main state departments of Tennessee are the following:

Tennessee Department of Education

The Tennessee Department of Education is dedicated to improve achievement of student and their success in all spheres of life. The department acts as a platform to ensure that Tennessee is the state with the fastest improving student achievement.

Contact Details
Tennessee Department of Education
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-5158
Website: http://www.state.tn.us/education/about/index.shtml

Tennessee Department of Transportation

The Department of Transportation (TDOT) is responsible to provide the best transportation system in the state. TransportationTDOT is a multimodal agency that looks after aviation, public transit, railroads waterways, and Bicycle and Pedestrian in the state. TDOT headquarters is located in downtown Nashville.

Contact Details
Department of Transportation
James K. Polk Building, Suite 700
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243-0349
Phone: 615.741.2848
Fax: 615.741.2508
Email: TDOT.Comments@tn.gov
Website: http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/

Tennessee Department of Health

The Tennessee Department of Health is responsible to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. Among the key responsibilities of the department includes immunizing of children against diseases, offering safety and caring services and providing early prenatal care and proper nutrition to pregnant women and young children.

Contact Details
Tennessee Department of Health
Phone: (615)532-7665
Email: tn.health@tn.gov
Website: http://health.state.tn.us/

Tennessee Department of Agriculture

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture promotes agriculture, maintains agricultural statistics and provides an array of valuable consumer services from food safety to pesticide regulation.

Contact Details
Tennessee Department of Agriculture
Ellington Agricultural Center
P.O. Box 40627
Nashville, TN 37204
Phone: 615-837-5103
Website: http://www.tn.gov/agriculture/

Department of Children’s Services

The Department of Children’s Services is responsible to protect children who are victims of abuse or neglect and strengthen families through family support and preservation services. The department administers child protective services, adoption services, delinquent youth program and treatment and rehabilitation services for identified youth.

Contact Details
Department of Children’s Services
Seventh Floor, Cordell Hull Building
436 Sixth Avenue North
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-1290
Phone: (615) 741-9699

Department of Commerce and Insurance

The Department of Commerce and Insurance is responsible to protect the interests of consumers. It provides fair and efficient competition for a broad array of industries and professionals doing business in Tennessee. The Division of Insurance regulates insurance companies and insurance agents.

Contact Details
Department of Commerce and Insurance
500 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243-5065
Phone: (615) 741-6007
Website: http://www.tn.gov/commerce/

Department of Economic and Community Development

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development works to develop strategies to make Tennessee a topmost location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. The department works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth.

Contact Details
Department of Economic and Community Development
William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower, 11th Floor
312 Rosa L. Parks Ave. North
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0405
Phone: (615) 741-1888
Fax (615) 741-7306
Website: http://www.tn.gov/ecd/

Department of Finance and Administration

The Department of Finance and Administration works to provide administrative and financial support to enhance state government’s ability to improve the quality of life for Tennesseans.

Contact Details
Department of Finance and Administration
State Capitol
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0285
Phone: (615) 741-2401

Department of Labor and Workforce Development

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development serves Tennessee’s employers, employees, and
transitioning workers.

Contact Details
Department of Labor and Workforce Development
220 French Landing Drive
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-6642
Website: http://www.state.tn.us/labor-wfd/


  1. Tennessee Constitution
  2. Tennessee Senate
  3. Tennessee House of Representatives
  4. Tennessee Tax Rates
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