New Year Begins With New State Laws

Jan 2, 2019

Credit Tennessee Secretary of State

More than thirty new state laws took effect Tuesday. They cover a variety of needs or concerns, from abortion to alcohol to education.

One of those new laws requires places that prescribe or handle opioids to post signs asking people to call a hotline if they suspect abuse. It also bars clinics, pharmacies and medical facilities from firing personnel who report opioid abuse in good faith.

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission, which helps set policy for the state's colleges and universities, will regain the power to name and manage its executive director. The law that took effect Tuesday reversed 2012 legislation that gave that power to the governor. Local boards of education will be required to develop a program to reduce potential lead contamination in drinking water.

One law says if an ultrasound is performed before an abortion, the woman must be given the opportunity to hear the results. Abortion providers will also have to report whether a heartbeat was detected on the ultrasound, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Another law threatens to withhold future state economic development money from cities that adopt or implement "sanctuary" policies for undocumented immigrants. Governor Bill Haslam let that bill become law without his signature, pointing out that sanctuary cities are already illegal under Tennessee law.

Changes continue this weekend; beginning January 6, grocery stores can sell wine during designated hours on Sundays and some major holidays (Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day are still off-limits).