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County government in Tennessee is a political subdivision of state government. As a political subdivision, county government has only that authority which is delegated to it by the state. In Tennessee, the process of delegation of power from state government to county government is accomplished through legislative action of the general assembly, either through a general (public) act or private act. In the case of the general act, the general assembly grants certain powers which have general application to all or a large number of counties across the state. These general acts are assembled and codified in the Tennessee Code Annotated which is revised and published on an annual basis and is widely available. However, finding individual county legislation (private acts) is not so easy since it is not published in the official code.

The presence of a large body of private legislation in this state is the result of two basic factors. First, although the Tennessee Constitution mentions some county government offices, the provisions of the Tennessee Constitution dealing with county government lack detail, thereby allowing the general assembly wide latitude in county government administration. Secondly, the Tennessee General Assembly has seen fit to enact much of the law relating to county government on an individualized county-by-county approach. The result has been that the 95 counties in Tennessee operate under both general laws and private acts. This body of private legislation is a mass of separate acts, with each applying to only one or a very small group of counties. Since these acts affect counties on an individual basis, they are not included in the Tennessee Code Annotated but rather are published annually in separate volumes.

The result of this past method of publication of private legislation has been the accumulation of a large portion of county law in a cumbersome mass of chronologically arranged volumes which at last count numbered over 120 books. To further complicate matters, the older volumes have not been reprinted, so that there are today only a handful of complete sets of the private acts in existence. Nevertheless, scattered through these hard-to-obtain volumes is the only public record of those laws from which Tennessee counties draw a large portion of their authority to govern and under which they operate daily. Before the County Technical Assistance Service began compilation of the private acts on a county-by-county basis, there was no statewide effort to organize these acts into a body of current law easily accessible for reference by county officials and interested citizens. It is our hope that this volume of The Private Acts of Sevier County will provide a useful reference for county administration in Sevier County.

We are indebted to the Sevier County legislative delegation for its continued support of the County Technical Assistance Service and this compilation.

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