New laws in effect January 1

Friday, December 29, 2017

New Years Day generally means a day on the couch watching hours of college football.

Jan. 1 also marks the day that several laws passed during the last session of the Tennessee General Assembly go into effect.

Sixteen new laws, or changes to existing statutes, take effect at the start of the year, ranging from tweaks to laws with limited impact to others with wider general impact.

Some of the new rules that could make a difference to Marshall County are profiled below.

The state is cracking down further on distracted driving.

Starting Jan. 1, talking on a cell phone while in an active school zone, while the signal lights are in use, will be a class C misdemeanor punishable with a $50 fine.

Also automotive related, a new law defines that headlights on vehicles in the state must either be white or amber in color.

Barbers will now be able to make house calls.

Previously, barbers have only been allowed to provide services in the home for clients too ill to leave the house.

With the new year, barbers with a residential certificate will be able to cut or style hair in any clients home.

The legislature tweaked requirements for handgun permits again, doing away with the required firing range training for members of, or veterans of, the military who can show small arms or combat pistol qualifications from their service.

The state Department of Health is authorized to establish a prescription drug donation program, in which unused medication can be donated for use, after inspection, of residents who might not be able to afford the prescriptions themselves.

Another law coming into effect will allow homeowners who are forced to sell their homes for medical reasons to cancel contracts with alarm service companies.

Homeowners must have had the service for at least two years but, with 30 days notice and proof of their medical condition, will be able to leave any remaining time on their alarm contracts.

Oversight and training of school buses is also strengthened for the coming year in response to a bus accident in Chattanooga that left several students dead.

The legislature also removed any enforcement of marijuana related offenses from the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

The highest profile measure passed last year--the IMPROVE Act which increased gas taxes in order to address a backlog of road and bridge infrastructure projects in the state estimated to total $6 billion dollars went into effect in 2017.