New Tennessee laws will go into effect starting Friday.
Among those will be legislation raising the minimum age required to buy tobacco products, ensuring 911 operators can provide CPR instructions to callers, and easing access to accommodations for pregnant woman in the workplace.
On top of these new state laws, Johnson City will also begin enforcing the next step of an ordinance that phases out chaining animals.
Johnson City commissioners approved the changes in November 2019, which introduced rules on Jan. 1, 2020, limiting the number of consecutive hours that a dog or puppy could be tethered or chained outside. Starting Jan. 1, 2021, no dog may be tethered or chained and left unattended in city limits.
New Tennessee laws include:
CPR-trained 911 operators: Public Chapter 575 ensures 911 operators across the state are prepared to provide CPR instructions to a caller in an emergency situation. Previously, not all counties allowed 911 operators to run callers through CPR instructions.
Supporting veterans: Public Chapter 531 requires the Department of Veterans Services to provide training in suicide prevention to employees who directly interact with veterans. The training will be available free of charge to DVS through suicide prevention networks.
Raising minimum age for tobacco: Public Chapter 732 raises the age to purchase, possess, transport, smoke or consume any tobacco, hemp or vapor products from 18 to 21. This new law puts Tennessee in line with federal law and ensures the state will receive $32 million in federal block grant funding. President Trump signed into law last December a provision in the federal budget that made it a violation to sell tobacco products to anyone under 21. That includes e-cigarettes and vaping cartridges.
Fairness for pregnant workers: Public Chapter 745, or the Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, sets a presumption that any reasonable accommodations that are provided to employees with medical conditions must also extend to employees who are pregnant.
If a pregnant woman talks to her doctor and needs temporary accommodations to remain healthy and working, the legislation guarantees she will receive those accommodations unless it’s a hardship on the business. Examples of accommodations include a stool to sit on, extra restroom breaks, temporary limits on lifting and increased access to water.
Regulating car sharing: Public Chapter 796 sets up a regulatory process for the emerging peer-to-peer car sharing industry. Similar to short-term rentals and ride-sharing services, car sharing allows private car owners to rent out their vehicles through an online and mobile interface. Among other rules, the legislation sets minimum insurance requirements and specifies which party’s policy is responsible for coverage during the ride-sharing period.
Correctional officers retirement: Public Chapter 784 reduces the minimum number of creditable service years required for correctional officers or emergency medical services personnel to retire from 30 to 25. Employees choosing to retire at 25 years would receive reduced benefits.
Tethering animals: Starting Jan. 1, no dog may be tethered or chained and left unattended in Johnson City limits. A dog or puppy may only be tethered to a fixed object if the animal is under observation of its owner. No puppy under the age of 6 months can be placed on a trolley or pulley system or tethered. Owners also have the option of providing a fence or pen for dogs that allows a minimum of 100 square feet of space per dog.