Here are some of the new laws that went into effect in Tennessee at 12:01 a.m. January 1, 2020:
ABORTION – Women seeking to have an abortion must now undergo an ultrasound beforehand with the person performing that procedure required to ask if the woman wants to see the results of the ultrasound before proceeding with the abortion. Abortion providers must also report whether a heartbeat was detected on the ultrasound.
ALCOHOL – Beginning January 6, 2020, grocery stores statewide will be allowed to sell wine on Sundays between the hours of 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. Alcohol sales are now also legal on a number of holidays, including Labor Day the Fourth of July, and New Year’s Day. Alcohol sales are still not allowed on Easter, Christmas Day, and Thanksgiving Day.
ELDER ABUSE / ABUSE OF VULNERABLE ADULTS – A new law makes it a Class E felony to knowingly abuse an elderly person, and a Class D felony for a person to knowingly abuse a vulnerable adult with physical or mental disabilities.
ELECTIONS – If a polling place for a regularly-scheduled November election date is inside a public school, that school must be “closed for instruction” on Election Day. If an election day is not in the month of November, the school can choose whether or not it wants to hold classes. People who want to run for local and state offices in Tennessee must now get the required number of signatures on petitions from registered voters within a 60-day period, rather than the 90 days that has been the law in the past.
FIRE DEPARTMENTS – Another law includes a program to help fund volunteer firefighters across the state. The program offers grant opportunities for VFDs to cover the cost of training and equipment. The program will be managed by the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which will award grants to departments to buy equipment or to meet the 10% local match requirements for federal grants.
GUN CARRY PERMITS – A new law allows people to complete online training courses to receive a new concealed carry-only permit that can be obtained by participating in an electronic, video, or online firearms training or safety course. The course must be at least 90 minutes in duration and participants are not required to fire a gun, nor is an instructor required to be present. Permit holders must pass a name-based background check every five years. The new permit will cost $65.
HEALTH CARE – The Health Care Billing Clarity Act “prohibits a hospital from including in any billing statement to a patient any language that indicates or implies that a charge is for a specialty health care service that was rendered by a health care provider unless that charge is described in a manner that provides the patient with sufficient information to identify the health care provider or the specialty health care service rendered.”
IMMIGRATION – The new law prohibits jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies in Tennessee from adopting “sanctuary” policies, thereby forcing local officials to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in connection with detaining people suspected of living in the country unlawfully. The law threatens to withhold future state economic development money from those agencies/towns/counties that don’t comply.
OPIOID ABUSE – Requires the state Department of Health to publicize a way through the posting of signs and other means for people to report allegations of opioid abuse, and for the department to accept those allegations. The law stipulates that people who report suspected opioid abuse cannot be fired from a job or held liable in civil court proceedings. Another law allows persons who have been issued a prescription for opioid medication to only partially fill the prescription if they think the full quantity of the medication won’t be needed. Doctors who write prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances, such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and codeine, must now write and submit those to pharmacies electronically, with a few exceptions. Doctors have until July 1, 2020 to comply.
SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS – This new law reduces the age requirement for a person to be eligible to drive a school bus from 25 to 23 if he/she is an honorably discharged veteran, a National Guard member, or a teacher who is employed by a local school district.