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New laws taking effect July 1: Student transcripts, strip clubs and airbags

Zach Vance • Updated Jun 9, 2018 at 7:38 PM

It’s almost that time of the year again when new laws passed by the Tennessee General Assembly take effect.

Although July 1 might be a few weeks away, Tennesseans can take the extra time to learn how the enacted rules, regulations and statutes might impact their daily lives or professions. 

From education, transportation, consumer protections and everything in between, some of the new statutes are obscure, like a a rule governing the use of the title “certified animal massage therapist,” while others conform to the growing use of technology, like allowing drivers to display evidence of vehicle registration in electronic format. 

The following is a list of some of the new laws impacting Tennesseans beginning next month: 

Education

• If you’re a student or graduate, alterations to a student’s transcript will be prohibited unless the local school board, charter school or virtual school has a written policy governing transcript alterations. The law also prohibits a local education agency from retaliating against an employee who brings unauthorized transcript alterations to the attention of school officials. 

• If you’re a student, homebound instruction programs can now be extended to all students, instead of only pregnant students. A student will qualify for homebound instruction if the student’s physician certifies in writing that the student has a medical condition that prevents the student from attending regular classes. 

• If you’re a parent of a college student, each college or university will now be required to notify parents of enrolled students of their right to view student records under the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 on the institution’s website. 

• If you’re student with a disability and an individualized education plan, you can no longer be paddled, otherwise known as corporal punishment, with certain exceptions. 

• If you’re the parent or legal guardian of a student, local education agencies must provide written notice to you before the student participates in any mental health screening. 

• If the director of a public school, charter school or nonpublic school learns about the conviction of a licensed educator for certain offenses, they must report the conviction to the State Board of Education. The state board is also authorized to reprimand any director for failure to report. 

• Local education agencies are now prohibited from entering into non-disclosure agreements during, or as a prerequisite to, settlement for any act of sexual misconduct. It also prohibits employees from assisting others in obtaining employment if the employee knows the person has engaged in sexual misconduct involving minors or students. 

• All public high schools are now required to place automated external defibrillator devices in schools. 

Finance/Taxes

• All out-of-state expenditures made by the governor, any member of the governor’s cabinet and cabinet level staff must be posted on the state website, not just expenditures for which reimbursements are made. However, the expenditure does not have to be posted if it occurred for the purpose of recruiting industry or economic development in the state, and the information has the potential to harm contract negotiations or place the state at a competitive disadvantage. 

• For each customer who enters a “sexually-oriented” business, such as a strip club, that business must pay a $2 tax. All revenue collected from the tax will be allocated to programs for victims of sex trafficking. The law does not require the business to impose a tax on a customer and has the discretion to determine how it derives the money to pay the tax. The bill sunsets July 1, 2021. 

Employment/Professions

• If you’re an animal massage therapist, you may only use that title if you complete necessary certification, such as 50 hours of training, and take an examination. A person who does not complete the certifying process may still offer animal massage therapy services, but they are prohibited from the using the title “certified animal massage therapist.” 

• If you’re a veteran, you must be given hiring preference for a state employment position if you’re on the list of eligible hiring candidates and meet all qualifications. 

• If you’re a doctor, you can now accept barter of goods or services from an uninsured patient as payment for providing healthcare services in certain circumstances. 

• Prior to anyone making aerial applications of pesticides, they must now notify the Department of Agriculture via an online reporting system instead of notifying the local sheriff’s office. 

Transportation

• If you’re a driver, you can now show proof of vehicle registration in electronic format through the use of cell phones and other devices. 

• If you’re trying to get a Tennessee driver’s license by presenting a driver’s license from another state that issues licenses to illegal aliens, you are required to either establish proof of citizenship, lawful permanent resident status or gain a specific period of authorized stay. 

• If you’re an auto mechanic, it is now a Class A misdemeanor to knowingly sell, import, install, reinstall, distribute any counterfeit device intended to replace an airbag or supplemental restraint system component.

Consumers

• Consumer report agencies are now prohibited from charging Tennessee consumers to place, temporarily file or permanently remove a credit report freeze, also known as a security freeze. 

• If you’re involved in an accident or disaster, health care prescribers are prohibited from certain types of solicitation within 30 days of the incident. 

• If you’re a grocery shopper, milk produced in Tennessee can now be labeled as “Local Tennessee Milk.” 

Public Meetings

• Agencies statutorily required to hold public hearings as part of their rulemaking process must now make copies of the rule available in redline form to anyone attending the hearing.

Wildlife

• State foresters must now designate portions or all of each state forest as free-use areas, where residents may remove downed and dead timber for their personal use without cost. The residents are prohibited from selling or offering to sell the harvested timber. Notice of any free-use designation must be published on the Department of Agriculture’s website. 

To view all the new laws taking effect July 1, click here. 

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