Brief History of Tennessee General Assembly ‘Extraordinary Sessions’

Press release from Tennessee Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin; January 31, 2015:

On Monday we will be gaveled into Extraordinary Session at the call of the Governor to consider his Insure Tennessee plan.  This will be the 58th Extraordinary Session in the State’s history.  See below for a brief history of special sessions in Tennessee.  I hope you find it interesting!
– Jack

A Brief History of Tennessee Extraordinary Sessions
Written by General Assembly Librarian Eddie Weeks

On February 2, 2015, the 109th General Assembly will convene in Extraordinary Session.

This will be the 58th Extraordinary Session in the history of the State.  The most recent Extraordinary Session was held in January 2010.

Of the 57 Extraordinary Sessions in the state’s history, five were called by Gov. John Sevier, the State’s first Governor, and 31 were called before the year 1900.

Of these 57 Extraordinary Sessions, 55 were called by the Governor as provided in Article III, Section 9, of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee, while two were called by the Legislature as provided in Article II, Section 8 (1971 and 1982).

In 1913, Gov. Ben Hooper issued a call for an Extraordinary Session of the 58th General Assembly, beginning September 18.  He listed 61 subjects, plus 148 items of local legislation, to be considered by the legislature.  The General Assembly adjourned sine die from Extraordinary Session on September 27, 1913; Gov. Hooper then issued a proclamation on September 30, 1913, calling for a Second Extraordinary Session to begin October 13.

In 1935, Gov. Hill McAlister issued a call for an Extraordinary Session of the 69th General Assembly.  He listed 64 subjects, plus 172 items of local legislation, to be considered by the legislature.  He then issued a supplemental call with an additional 68 items to be considered, and then issued a second supplemental call with an additional 9 items to be considered.

The 70th General Assembly is the only General Assembly to have met in three Extraordinary Sessions, and is the only General Assembly to have been called into Extraordinary Session by two different Governors:  Gov. Hill McAlister in December 1936 (after the members’ election in November 1936) and Gov. Gordon Browning in October and November 1937.

The Extraordinary Sessions of 1971, 1982, and 1996 each lasted only one day; the Second Extraordinary Session of 1890, the Extraordinary Session of 1936, and the Extraordinary Session of 1944 each lasted four calendar days.

The Second Extraordinary Session of 1866 lasted from November 5, 1866 until March 11, 1867.

Perhaps the most famous Extraordinary Session in the State’s history was in 1920.  On August 7, 1920, Gov. A. H. Roberts issued a call for an Extraordinary Session of the 61st General Assembly to convene August 9.  He listed 142 subjects to be considered (plus an additional 20 in a supplemental call), but all that most people remember is the first item:  “To take action upon the amendment to the Constitution of the United States… giving women the full right of suffrage, being the proposed Nineteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution.”

On Friday, August 13, Senate Joint Resolution 1, “Relative to ratifying proposed Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” was adopted by the Senate, 25 Ayes, 4 Noes, 2 PNV.

On Wednesday, August 18, Speaker of the House Seth Walker moved that SJR 1 be tabled; the motion failed 48 – 48.

SJR 1 was then concurred in by a vote of 50 Ayes, 46 Noes, and women throughout the United States gained the right to vote.