A measure to require drug testing as a condition for receiving welfare and the reduction of the sales tax on groceries are among new laws taking effect Sunday in Tennessee.
The welfare legislation requires new welfare applicants to undergo a special screening process. If suspicion is raised after the screening, then the applicant will be drug tested.
In the case of the sales tax on groceries, the measure that’s included in the governor’s spending plan will reduce the tax from 5.5% to 5.25% – with a goal to lower it to 5% in about two years.
However, Democrats have called for the state’s roughly $225 million in excess revenues to be used to reduce the food tax sooner rather than later.
A list of other new laws that took effect on July 1: GOV. BILL HASLAM’S BUDGET: Enacts Tennessee’s more than $31 billion annual spending plan. ABORTION DOCTORS: Requires physicians to have hospital privileges in the home or adjacent county of woman seeking abortion. TRA OVERHAUL: Overhauls the Tennessee Regulatory Authority with a part-time board. MENTAL HEALTH-NAME CHANGE: Adds the words Substance Abuse Services to the name of the state Department of Mental Health. EMBRYO ASSAULT: Includes embryo as victim in assaults on pregnant women. DOMESTIC ABUSE: Requires mandatory jail time for repeat domestic abuse convictions. GANG BILL: Increases penalties for violent crimes committed by three or more people. GATEWAY SEXUAL ACTIVITY: Prohibits teachers from promoting or condoning “gateway sexual activity.” CORRECTIONS TRANSFER: Merges the Board of Probations and Parole into the Department of Correction. CHARTER SCHOOLS FOREIGNERS: Limits number of foreign workers allowed to be employed at charter schools. CHARTER SCHOOL TRANSPARENCY: Requires charter schools to operate under state open meetings laws. SCHOOL ACTIVITIES: Allows parents to keep their children from joining extracurricular groups at school. JUDICIAL DISCIPLINE: Creates new panel for disciplining judges. DUI MINORS: Increases penalties for drunken driving when child under 18 is in car. WILD APPEARING SWINE: Makes it a crime to release wild-appearing swine without proper documentation. BATH SALTS: Makes it a felony to sell synthetic drugs known as bath salts. BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS: Allows governor to appoint heads of boards, including Tennessee Higher Education Commission. CIVIL SERVICE: Revises state civil service laws to make it easier to hire and fire state employees. ETHICS DISCLOSURES: Requires local and regional planning commissioner to submit state ethics disclosures. MONOXIDE MONITOR-RV: Requires working carbon monoxide detectors in leased recreational vehicles. REMOTE MEETINGS: Allows school board members to participate in meetings remotely. ROLL YOUR OWN CIGARETTES: Promulgates rules for new requirements for roll-your-own tobacco retailers. SAGGY PANTS: Prohibits students from wearing saggy pants or other indecent clothing on school grounds. SCHOOL SAFETY: Gives teachers more authority to act against students who pose a safety risk. TATTOO LEGISLATION: Increases the penalty for tattooing a minor.