It's Now The Law: 14 Changes You Should Know About
July 1 marks the first day many new Tennessee laws go into effect, from new restrictions on cold medication to legislation allowing hemp farming for the first time in decades. Here are 14 new laws you may not have been aware of:
1. KNIFE POSSESSION
A new law overrides local restrictions on knives, making it legal throughout the state to possess, own, sell, transfer and transport switchblades and knives with blades over 4 inches long. It also increases the penalties for using a switchblade to commit a crime.
A measure passed in March revises the state's requirement to provide coverage for sinkholes as part of homeowner policies, adding standards for verifying damage. Proponents say the changes will prevent fraud.
3. CELL PHONE TRACKING
A law passed in April requires law enforcement to get a warrant before searching a cell phone. Supporters say the measure was bolstered by last week's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that such searches are illegal.
4. METH PRODUCTION
Gov. Bill Haslam pressed for new limits on sales of pseudoephedrine, a cold medication needed to make methamphetamine. Tennesseans now can buy no more than 24 daylong tablets a month or 120 daylong tablets a year.
State officials are allowed now to execute death row inmates using the electric chair if lethal injection is found to be unconstitutional or the drugs cannot be obtained. Tennessee previously gave inmates the option of electrocution if they committed capital crimes before Jan. 1, 1999.
6. CHRISTMAS IN SCHOOLS
A new measure clarifies that school districts can teach the history of Christmas and "traditional winter celebrations," as well as put up displays and let students and staff exchange traditional greetings. The American Civil Liberties Union said these activities were already allowed.
7. SEX ABUSE EDUCATION
Legislation known as "Erin's Law" requires the Department of Education and the Department of Children's Services to begin developing a school curriculum on sexual abuse.
8. HOT CARS
A bystander who breaks a window to remove a child from a locked car would be immune from civil liability, under a law passed in April. The measure comes amid rising concern about children being left in car seats on hot days.
9. STANDARDIZED TESTING
The big legislative fight over Common Core education standards ended with a one-year delay to new testing. Lawmakers also placed restrictions on how student data can be used.
10. SPECIALTY PLATES
Organizations that rely on sales of specialty plates for revenue can now ask supporters to give them to friends and relatives. Tennesseans previously could buy plates only for themselves.
11. TRANSDERMAL MONITORING
"Amelia's Law" clarifies that judges can order offenders or parolees to wear transdermal or other monitoring devices after release. The bill is named after Amelia Keown, a Maryville teenager killed in a 2012 accident.
12. INDUSTRIAL HEMP
For the first time in decades, state law allows farmers in Tennessee to grow hemp, a cousin of marijuana whose fibers can be put to industrial use.
Grocery stores won't be able to sell wine until the summer of 2016 at the earliest, but one liquor restriction is lifted July 1. Liquor stores will be allowed to sell items other than alcohol, including corkscrews, mixers, snacks, beer and cigarettes.
14. YELLOW LIGHTS
A new state law clarifies that drivers can run yellow lights as long as their front tires cross the stop line before it turns red. As if Tennesseans weren't doing this already.