New Tennessee laws taking effect July 1

Zach Vance • Jun 24, 2017 at 10:30 PM

A multitude of new laws enacted by the 110th General Assembly are set to take effect July 1, from the highly publicized IMROVE Act to an obscure law requiring that steps leading into a public building have detectable “nosings.”

Another prominent taking law set to be enforced is Jonesborough Rep. Matthew Hill’s 20-week abortion ban, which Gov. Bill Haslam signed on May 3.

This means an abortion cannot be performed 20 weeks from the beginning of a woman’s last menstrual period.

Beginning July 1, a doctor is required to test for viability and gestational age before performing an abortion. Any doctor who breaches the new law could be charged with a Class C felony that could carry up to 15 years in prison.

Currently, 14 other states ban abortions after the 20th week post-fertilization.

Here are some other laws impacting Tennesseans beginning July 1:

Reordering of election ballots.

This law reorders the presidential primary ballots to allow for candidates for state, county and municipal offices to immediately follow the names of presidential candidates. It also increases the number of vertical columns from two to three for each respective party’s primary election.

Voter fraud is costly

Courts will now be required to add an additional $1,000 fine to any other fees for a conviction of voter fraud. Also, any person providing information that leads to a conviction of voter fraud will be rewarded $1,000.

Watch your step!

The steps leading up to the entrance of any any public building constructed, purchased or leased by the state on or after July 1 must be marked with yellow paint that is applied at a thickness of two inches. The entire length of each step must also be marked. All public building stairs after July 1, 2021, must meet this criteria.

Maintaining state park routes

The Tennessee Department of Transportation will now be responsible for the maintenance of public roads and bridges within the boundaries of all state parks. This includes resurfacing, cleaning of drainage structures and repair of retaining walls and tunnels.

Flu shots

The doctor won’t be the only one pushing you to get a flu shot. Under this law, all public and nonpublic schools will be required to provide parents and guardians with information about the flu and the effectiveness of vaccination at the beginning of each school year. It does not require schools to provide or purchase vaccines against influenza.

Sign language = Foreign language

All school boards will be required to adopt a policy allowing American sign language courses to satisfy the foreign language credits required for graduation.

Mental health referral at school

This law authorizes a school counselor to refer or help facilitate a referral of a student to a counselor or therapist for mental health assessments or services.

Naloxone at school

All public and nonpublic schools will be authorized to maintain an opioid antagonist in at least two unlocked, secure locations. An opioid antagonist, like naloxone, can then be administered to a student who is believed to have overdosed on opioids. The State Board of Education will be required to develop guidelines for the management of students experiencing an overdose and then each local education agency will be required to develop a plan based on the state’s guidelines.

Hospital visit following overdosing

Any person treated for a drug-related overdose with an opioid antagonist, such as naloxone, by a first responder must be taken to a medical facility by emergency medical services for evaluation unless the person is competent to refuse medical treatment and chooses to refuse treatment.

Failed drug test for medical professionals 

Any health care professional who tests positive during a drug test and does not have a lawful prescription for the drug will have their license suspended or restricted. This law also establishes procedural requirements during such instances for each medical licensing board, committee or department.

Off-highway vehicles

This bill specifies that an off-highway vehicle is not an uninsured motor vehicle unless the vehicle is operated on a public road.

Wearing orange while hunting

The court costs imposed against persons convicted of not wearing sufficient blaze orange while hunting is not limited to $50.

Funeral directors and embalmers

For a funeral director to renew their license, five of the 10 hours required must be attended in person. This means the coursework is either completed in the physical presence or completed through an interactive virtual program that requires participants to confirm their presence during the program.

Public records requests

This law requires record custodians to accept handwritten requests submitted in person or by mail, an email request submitted to the records custodian or an online electronic form. This also requires “any person” rather than “any citizen” making a public records request to present a government-issued photo identification or other form of identification.

“Spoofing” caller identifications

This law makes it a Class A misdemeanor to knowingly cause any caller identification service to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identification information to a subscriber with the intent to defraud or cause harm to another person.

Waving the flag in the face of homeowners’ associations

Any homeowners’ association cannot adopt or enforce a rule that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting a property owner from displaying the flag of the United States of America or an official or replica flag of any branch of the United States armed forces on the property of the homeowner.

First responder payments

The estate of any firefighter, volunteer rescue squad worker or law enforcement officer who dies in the line of duty will be compensated $250,000, rather than $25,000, in five annual installments of $50,000. Another law authorizes the state and local governments to provide health insurance to the immediate family of a first responder killed in the line of duty for a period of two years.

Email Zach Vance at [email protected] Follow Zach Vance on Twitter at @ZachVanceJCP. Like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/ZachVanceJCP.


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