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  • Writer's pictureState Rep. Kelly Keisling

New Tennessee laws take effect July 1, 2023

A number of laws passed by the Tennessee General Assembly will take effect starting Saturday, July 1, 2023. Here are some of those laws:

Garrison-Jordan Survivor Benefits Act

This law generally increases the death benefit in workers compensation claims from 66 2/3% of the deceased’s average weekly wage to 75%, up to 100% of the state’s average weekly wage and makes other specific changes to current law concerning death benefits in workers’ compensation claims.

Dillard’s Law

This law allows the surviving parent or guardian of a child whose parent was a victim of vehicular homicide to convert a restitution order for child maintenance payments to a civil judgment at any time rather than following conclusion of the defendant’s sentence.

Booting Consumer Protection Act

This law prohibits a person from knowingly installing a vehicle immobilization device—also called a boot—on a motor vehicle parked on private property in the state. A violation of this law is a Class B misdemeanor. The law also requires any business that places boots on cars to accept debit and credit cards as a method of payment for the boot removal; additionally, someone in the business of installing boots will be prohibited from contracting the work of installing or removal out or compensating employees on commission.

Silas Gable Flatt Law

This law makes it an offense for someone to knowingly provide as motor vehicle to someone under the influence of any intoxicant or whose driver’s license has been suspended or revoked under certain circumstances. Anybody who does so would be committee a Class A misdemeanor. A first offense would warrant a minimum 48 hours incarceration; a second offense would receive 72 hours’ minimum incarceration; and a third violation would require at least seven days’ incarceration.

SB0256 – Immunity from prosecution from drug overdose

This law states a person experiencing an overdose shall be granted immunity from arrest, charging and prosecution on their first and subsequent overdoses “at the discretion of the responding law enforcement officer or the district attorney general’s office.”

SB0868 – Penalties for text and telephone solicitations

This law stipulates that in addition to phone call solicitations, text messages from solicitors may not be made between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.; they cannot knowingly utilize “any method to block or otherwise circumvent” a residential subscriber’s use of caller ID; they cannot contact those on the Do Not Call Register; they must pay $500 annually to defray regulatory and enforcement expenses; and a solicitor who violates any of those provisions are subject to a civil penalty of up to $2,000 per violation. Previous law only applied to telephone calls.

Tennessee Higher Education Freedom of Expression and Transparency Act

This law prohibits institutions of higher education from showing bias or favoritism for or against student groups peacefully protesting, guest speakers points of view or a student group who requests a guest speaker to come to that institution. Additionally, the school will be prohibited from requiring students to pay fees or security deposits that are not charged to all other student groups or deny any student group access to school property if that property is typically used for similar purposes. Further, the law states universities are prohibited from requiring applicants for employment or admission to “submit a personal diversity statement” or to agree with an “institutional diversity statement” as part of the application or admissions process. Finally, the law states the university shall not use state funds, fees, dues or other money for meetings, membership or activities of any organization “if participation in such organization requires an individual or an individual’s employer, to endorse or promote a divisive concept.”

SB0450 – Prohibits sale of tattoo or piercing materials for minors

As enacted, this law would prohibit the sale or distribution of tattoo and body piercing paraphernalia to minors. Such sale or distribution would be a Class A misdemeanor. The bill also requires a person engaged in the sale or distribution of tattoo and body piercing paraphernalia to demand proof of age from a potential purchaser or obtain proof of age if the sale/distribution occurs through the mail. If a minor buys the materials, they will be subject to a $50 fine.

Jabari Bailey Highway Safety Act

This law increases the penalties for those who fail to move out of the way of stopped law enforcement vehicles on roadsides. Specifically, the bill changes the language of the state law to include any “stationary vehicle,” while before it was limited to emergency vehicles. Starting Saturday, Tennessee drivers will be required by law to move over or slow down when passing any stationary vehicle that has its flashing hazard lights activated, including civilian, maintenance, emergency or law enforcement vehicles.

Tennessee Works Tax Reform Act

This law will cut taxes for Tennessee families and small businesses by over $400 million. It also provides targeted relief to families with a three-month-long tax break on groceries from Aug. 1-Oct. 31. These cuts also aim to lower the tax burden on small businesses, boost Tennessee’s economic competitiveness and promote entrepreneurship.

Teacher Paycheck Protection Act

This law will go into effect to provide historic salary increases for Tennessee teachers. Under the new law, the base salary for teachers will increase each year until it reaches $50,000 in the 2026-2027 school year.

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