|New Laws Take Effect July 1
By Tracy Sharp
It's the beginning of a new fiscal and state year, and the big story is that cigarettes went up 42 cents a pack on Sunday. But the 105th General Assembly passed more than just the controversial bills the public have been debating. The list of bills that went into effect over the weekend measure more than 200.
Many of the new bills that have gone into effect families and children.
The whole structure of divorce has changed. Partner seeking divorce now must go through a regulated form of mediation and if children are involved during the termination of a marriage, there will be a waiting period.
As for establishing payment for child custody and support, a new law requires that self-employed obligors to establish a bank account for deposit of child support funds and allow the Department of Human Services to retrieve those funds by automatic bank withdrawal on a periodic basis.
Other laws that will impact children include that all school resource officers must be sworn police officers, and parents may face steep fine is children are not wearing helmets on motorcycles or ATVs.
There is also a new bill that forbids leaving children less than 7 years old in a motor vehicle without supervision which will be punishable by permissible safety training and as Class B misdemeanor by $200 fine for first offense and $500 fine for second or subsequent offense.
The Tennessee Department of Education will also now deal with a zero-tolerance on forms of bullying. If students "gang up" to fight an individual student, they will face a mandatory one-year-expulsion from their perspective educational institution.
Tennessee is also setting a standard for the entire nation with a Universal Carding system. What this means is, if an individual tries to by alcohol, they will be carded regardless of their age. Everyone should be prepared to show and ID, whether that person is 18 or 81. The new law will not apply, however, to bars, restaurants or liquor stores where only liquor and wine are sold.
With the July 4th holiday week, citizens are going to need to be old enough to drive a car to purchase Class C Common Fireworks.
Illegal aliens: Prohibits the transportation of illegal aliens into the state, imposes a fine of $1,000 for such violation, and requires that money received from such fines be applied to the costs associated with deportation of such illegal aliens.
Surrendering a newborn: Urges the State Board of Education to develop guidelines for the materials and method of instruction used to teach the procedure for voluntarily surrendering a newborn baby and to include that instruction in the lifetime wellness curriculum for grades nine through 12.
Prostitution: Requires judge to order person convicted of promoting prostitution to submit to HIV test.
Education: Replaces pre-graduation exit examination with three mandatory assessment exams to provide educators with information that will improve high school graduation rates and improve post-secondary achievement; exams to be administered in grades eight, 10 and 11.
School transportation: Requires school bus drivers to deposit student at student's destination and makes failure to do so a Class C misdemeanor punishable by fine of up to $100; requires school districts to assure that school bus drivers understand their duties and responsibilities with respect to management of unruly student bus riders.
Rosa Parks Act: Expunges public records of persons charged with a misdemeanor or felony while challenging a law designed to maintain racial segregation or discrimination.
Helmet safety: Creates a Class C misdemeanor offense subject to a fine only for a parent or legal guardian to permit a child under the age of 18 to operate or be a passenger on an off-highway motor vehicle on certain property without wearing a helmet that meets the U.S. Department of Transportation standards; authorizes municipalities to adopt mirror ordinance and to issue a traffic citation in lieu of arrest for a violation.
Firearms and ammunition: Increases punishment for first violation of offense of unlawful possession of weapon with intent to go armed to a fine not to exceed $500 and raises punishment for second or subsequent violation of such offense from Class C to Class B misdemeanor.
911 calls: Increases maximum fine for making non-emergency 911 call from $50 to $500.
Tobacco: Prohibits smoking in any state-owned, leased, or operated motor vehicle.
Parking fine: Increases fine for unauthorized use of parking spaces reserved for persons with disabilities from $100 to $150.
Teachers: Requires two hours of the required five days of annual teachers' in-service training to be devoted to training in suicide prevention.
DNA and genetic testing: Expands group of persons required to furnish DNA samples for testing to include misdemeanants whose offense requires them to register with the sexual offender registry.
Game and fish laws: Requires land managed by TWRA to be open to access and use for recreational hunting, and that agency land management actions relative to such land not result in any net loss of available acreage for hunting opportunities; requires TWRA to mitigate the closure of hunting and fishing land that it owns.
Paternity: Requires court to order non-prevailing party in paternity suit or, in non-contested cases, the person confirmed as the father of the child to pay costs for changing birth certificate and issuing new birth certificate.
Dog fights: Increases the punishment for the offense of being present as a spectator at a dog fight from a Class C misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor.
EMA: Allows directors of the emergency management agency to carry handguns pursuant to written directive.
Military: Increases paid military leave time from 15 to 20 working days a year.
Substitute teachers: Reduces from 20 consecutive days to 15 consecutive days the period of time for which a substitute teacher may fill in for a regular teacher on leave without being required to possess a teacher's license or permit.
Food: Authorizes the sale of non-potentially hazardous foods prepared in home-based kitchens to be sold at farmers' markets.
Traffic fines: Sets a limit of $400 for unpaid fines for certain city or county traffic offenses for purposes of driver license reinstatement unless an installment payment plan is in place.