New laws taking effect Jan. 1: Free speech, school zones and hair cuts at home

Zach Vance • Updated Dec 23, 2017 at 9:59 PM

New Year’s Day brings new beginnings and resolutions and ignites a curiosity about the forthcoming year.

But Jan. 1 is also the day a host of state laws take effect, which may catch some people by surprise.

Some of those new laws and changes may never be noticed by the majority of Tennesseans. For instance, SB0128 will be a new law that updates the safety code governing electrical supply stations and lines.

Meanwhile, others can turn previously legal actions, like talking on a cell phone while driving through an active school zone, into a criminal offense.

Here is a breakdown of all the new laws affecting Tennesseans beginning Jan. 1, 2018:

If you talk on a cell phone while driving through an active school zone, when warning flashers are present, that will be classified as a Class C misdemeanor and carries a $50 fine with it. If you’re under the age of 18, the fine is still $50, but it’s classified as a delinquent act.

If you have passed small arms training or combat pistol training while serving in the military, you will be exempt from the firing range test that is typically needed to obtain a handgun carry permit. The applicant is required to submit proof to the Department of Safety & Homeland Security.

If you’re a barber or you’re certified to cut hair, you are now allowed to perform services in all residences, regardless of the person’s health who is receiving the haircut. Previously, barbers were only permitted to cut hair inside the residence of ill clients.

If you’re a new school bus driver, you will have to be at least 25 years old and must complete a training program before driving a bus. A school transportation supervisor program will also be established that monitors and provides oversight for all local education agencies and charter schools.

If you you’re a Tennessee college student, the “Campus Free Speech Protection Act” will recognize students’ right to free speech. It also directs state universities, colleges and other places of higher education to give students the freedom to speak, write, listen, challenge, learn and discuss any issue, as long as it doesn’t violate the First Amendment.

Under this law, institutions can no longer deny student activity fees to student organizations based on viewpoints, and guest speakers, invited by students or faculty, can no longer be barred just because their speech might be considered offensive or otherwise disagreeable.

If you’re a competent adult with a functional disability or a caregiver of a minor or incompetent adult, you will be allowed to direct and supervise a paid personal aide to perform health maintenance tasks, which a person without a functional disability would otherwise be able to perform for themselves.

If you work for the Alcoholic Beverage Commission, you will no longer have any jurisdiction over the enforcement of criminal offenses involving marijuana. The Alcoholic Beverage Commission will be removed from the governor’s Task Force on Marijuana Eradication, which has been discussed since 2012.

According to WSMV Nashville, the push to remove the Alcoholic Beverage Commission from the task force began in 2012 when law enforcement found what they believed to be marijuana in the home of  commission Director Danielle Elks. A criminal investigation never occurred and the director eventually retired in 2012, WSMV reported. Other law enforcement agencies are expected to absorb the work previously completed by the Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

If you drive a car at night, your headlights must be white or amber. This applies to all lights, whether it’s steady burning or flashing. All vehicles must have at least two headlights, but no more than four. Emergency vehicles are the only exception.

If you have a home alarm system, you can cancel your contract with your alarm service provider as long as the contract’s term is longer than two years and you provide the company with a 30-day notice.

A few other laws also take effect, such as the “The Motor Vehicle Recall and Disclosure Law,” which prohibits a dealer from selling used cars before obtaining a recall database report. Another bill, “Visiting Sports Team Act,” allows a traveling athletic team doctor, who is licensed out of state, the ability to provide certain care for athlete who come to Tennessee and play. 

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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