More than 20 new laws take effect July 1 in Tennessee

More than 20 new laws take effect July 1 in Tennessee
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC/WVLT) - More than 20 new laws will go into effect in Tennessee on Wednesday, July 1.

Below is a list of the some of the new laws, according to the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus:

State’s “slow poke” law is extended under a new law

A new law will extend the state’s “slow poke” law to divided highways with two or more lanes in each direction. Under current law, cars are required to stay out of the left lane of interstate highways with at least three lanes, except in the case of passing other vehicles or while the road is under construction or repair, with violators facing a $50 fine. Many traffic safety experts said driving too slow in the passing lane is at least as dangerous as driving too fast, resulting in a number of highway accidents.

GIVE ACT/ Vocational Education

The General Assembly acted in 2019 to establish the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) Act to develop work-based learning and apprenticeship opportunities through regional partnerships. The purpose of the new law is to increase the number of young adults in Tennessee earning an industry certification and entering a career within one year of high school graduation. It provides funding for high school juniors and seniors to utilize four fully-funded dual enrollment credits for high-skill, high-demand, career-focused programs from community colleges and Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT).

Under the new statute, a student’s acceptance of a GIVE Dual Enrollment grant would not take away from his or her eligibility for the HOPE Scholarship or TN Promise. Funding for GIVE Dual Enrollment grants is through excess lottery funds after HOPE, Promise, and Reconnect are all fully funded.

The GIVE Dual Enrollment Grant will provide additional money to fully fund the third and fourth courses for students dual-enrolled in a TCAT or Community College teaching a high-skill, high-demand trade, as determined by the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC) Board of Directors.

Health Care Empowerment Act expanded to all medical professionals

State lawmakers voted to expand Tennessee’s Health Care Empowerment Act to allow all licensed medical professionals to use direct medical care agreements without regulation by the insurance laws of this state. The previous legislation only included physicians.

The Health Care Empowerment Act is designed to give healthcare consumers who are struggling to pay, an affordable option to contract directly with their physician for health care services. According to the new law, a person seeking medical care outside of an insurance plan, TennCare or Medicare programs and chooses to pay out of pocket, does not have to forfeit their coverage plan.

General Assembly votes to continue funds to support hospitals, nursing homes, ambulance services

State lawmakers approved three bills critical to the operations of Tennessee’s hospitals, nursing homes and ambulance services by extending assessments used to draw down federal matching funds. The legislation will allow Tennessee to receive $1.1 billion in federal matching funds, for a total of $1.7 billion for the state’s TennCare program.

New law seeks to address the shortage of teachers

A new law plans to help Local Education Agencies (LEAs) fund a “Grow Your Own” scholarship program. The program will help train high school students and non-teaching staff to become certified teachers in a three-year program at a higher education institution.

In 2019, there were 1,123 teacher vacancies reported in Tennessee, leaving over 20,000 students without a certified teacher, according to the Tennessee Senate.

Other laws include a law to help ensure license revocation for teachers convicted of certain crimes, strengthened laws against child sex offenders, legislation banning convicted animal abusers from owning pets and legislation ensuring World War II Veterans can have their military service indicated on their driver’s license.

To learn more about all the new laws click here.

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