New state laws as of July 1

Over 20 recently passed, new or expanded Tennessee state laws went into effect on July 1. {File Photo}

The state “slow poke” law, a new law to address the state’s teacher shortage, and a law to keep animal abusers from owning pets … these are part of the over 20 laws that took effect on July 1 in Tennessee. Here are a couple, we thought that might interest you:

1 | An Extension of the State’s Slow Poke Law | People driving slow in the left lane bug you? Good news. State lawmakers extended the state’s “Slow Poke” law to include not only the interstates by also any divided highway with two or more lanes in each direction. Tennessee drivers could face a $50 fine if they creep along in the passing lane.

2 | Law to Address Teacher Shortage | The General Assembly also passed a law to help Local Education Agencies (LEAs) fund a Grow Your Own scholarships to train high school students and non-teaching staff to become certified educators in a three-year program at an area college.

3| Teacher’s License Revoked for Certain Crimes | Teachers will now have their state license pulled by the State Board of Education if found guilty of certain crimes such as communicating a threat concerning a school employee, arson, aggravated arson, burglary, child abuse, child neglect, child endangerment, aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect, aggravated child endangerment, providing handguns to juveniles, sexual offenses, and violent sexual offenses. In addition, it includes teachers or administrators whose name is placed on the state’s Vulnerable Persons Registry or the state’s Sex Offender Registry, or those identified by the Department of Children’s Services as having committed child abuse, severe child abuse, child sexual abuse, or child neglect.

4 | New law banning animal abusers from owning pets in the future | Legislators also passed Senate Bill 1800, which bans some convicted animal abusers from ever owning any pet again. The new law prohibits individuals convicted of some of the worst offenses against animals from owning companion animals for at least two years from the date of conviction and may impose a lifetime prohibition.  Upon a subsequent offense, the court shall prohibit the individual from having custody of any companion animal for the person’s lifetime.

For a complete list of all new Tennessee laws that went into effect on July 1, click here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Music Fest, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Tennessee will get two sales tax weekends this year

Tennessee will get not one but two Sales Tax Holidays this year thanks to the General Assembly. {File Photo}

The General Assembly passed the 2020-21 fiscal budget last Friday and there’s an Easter egg in it for residents … not one but two sales tax weekends this year. The traditional sales tax weekend for clothing, school supplies, and computers will take place on July 31 through August 2. A second sales tax free weekend for restaurants will take place on August 7-9.

The state also increased the price limits on eligible individual items to up to $200 for clothes and school supplies and up to $3,000 for computers and televisions. In 2021, the sales tax holiday eligible items will return to $100 and $1,500 limits, according to the Department of Revenue.

Previously lawmakers had discussed doing away with Tennessee’s annual sales tax holiday due to budget concerns, but decided to keep it based on some retailer numbers being down due to the pandemic.

For a complete list of exempt items, click here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Music Fest, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

New bill seeks to make Juneteenth an official Tennessee holiday

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 as the nation approached its second bloody year of the American Civil War. In it, Lincoln proclaimed, “that all persons held as slaves, within the rebellious states are, and henceforward shall be free.” But news traveled slow before the age of social media and 24/7 news. Or maybe the folks in Texas – the most remote of the slave states with few Union soldiers present to enforce the proclamation – drug their feet. Either way, slavery remained the status quo in Texas well beyond what was lawful.

That changed on June 19, 1865 when Union Army General Gordon Granger traveled to Galveston, Texas to publicly read federal orders letting all Black slaves know they were free. That day, became known as Juneteenth.

At first, June 19 was only celebrated regionally in Texas with church-centered community meals but eventually the holiday spread throughout the South and eventually the United States. Today, friends and families across the nation will celebrate with cookouts, street festivals, and public remembrances.

In Tennessee, Juneteenth is recognized as a special day of observance but not an official state holiday. That could change if new legislation passes the General assembly. On Tuesday, Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) introduced a bill that would make Juneteenth an official state holiday.

JC Penney, Target, Twitter, the NFL and others give their employees a paid day off to celebrate. Banks such as Chase and Fifth Thirds Bank will close early that day. This year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam will also give state workers the day off and say they intend to make the day a state holiday.

To voice your opinion, contact Moore County’s representatives Representative Iris Rudder at 615-741-8695 or Senator Shane Reeves at 615-741-1066. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Mayor Lewis: Fill out those 2020 Census forms

Moore County currently ranks 11th in the state for self-response in the 2020 Census. Mayor Lewis is encouraging locals to keep up the good work. {File Photo}

LYNCHBURG — Be counted. It’s important. Census numbers determine things like how much federal funding Metro Moore County can qualify for, how our political districts are drawn, and future county planning. That’s why Mayor Bonnie Lewis is encouraging all local to respond to this year’s Census.

On April 2, The Lynchburg Times reported that Moore County ranked number one in state Census responses. You can read that complete coverage by clicking here. As of last week, Moore County’s self-response was 66.1 percent, which is above both the state and national average of 60.6 percent. That places us is eleventh place overall for the state of Tennessee.

Remember, if you do not participate via self-response, a 2020 Census taker will visit your home. By law, they can come back up to six times.

Why do I have to participate? In short, it’s the law. The U.S. Constitution – Article 1, Section 2 to be exact – mandates that we take an accurate counting of all living persons inside the United Stated every 10 years.

Who is counted? The Census counts every person living inside the United Stated regardless of citizenship. The 2020 Census does not include a citizenship question.

What does the Census ask? It’s a short questionnaire with less that 10 questions per person. It includes your first and last name, sex, age, and race. That’s it. Click here to view a sample of the questions. Census takers will never ask about your religion, political affiliations, or income. They will also never ask for your Social Security number of financial information.

Will they keep my information private? Yes … but only for a certain amount of time. All Census answers remain anonymous and they are kept confidential for 72 years. After that, your information is released to the National Archives.

What happens if I don’t answer the form? If you choose not to voluntarily respond online, by phone, or by mail before May 1, then a U.S. Census worker will visit your home to collect the information in person.

What should I do if I suspect the person at my door doesn’t really work for the U.S. Census? All U.S. Census worker wear official identification complete with an ID badge number. If you suspect the person, get their badge number and call the U.S. Census Regional Office to verify them. Tennessee is located in the Philadelphia Regional office along with Delaware, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia. You can reach them at 800.262.4236 or via email at Philadelphia.Regional.Office@census.gov.

And remember, by law, your answers on the U.S. Census can never be used against you by any government agency or court. Getting an accurate count of every person living in Moore County is important. Census numbers help determine how billions in federal dollars are spent. They also determine how many seats in Congress the State of Tennessee gets. For more information, visit the U.S. Census website. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

State blood supplies now critically low

blood donations
Over 200 state blood drives and nearly 8,000 scheduled donations have been cancelled in this month due to the COVID-19 health scare. Supplies are now critically low in Tennessee. {File Photo}

STATE NEWS — The American Red Cross reports that the COVID-19 pandemic is leading to another trickle-down, healthcare crisis … low blood supplies. According to the Red Cross, groups cancelled over 200 blood drives and nearly 8,000 scheduled donation in the past month leading to dangerously low local blood supplies.

Unlike toilet paper, blood can’t be stockpiled. Donations usually expire after 42 days. Without current donations, area blood banks might not have the supplies they need for trauma and cancer patients. The fact that many typical blood drive hosts – college campuses, schools, and churches – have closed is also affecting Tennessee’s blood supply.

Red Cross officials are quick to remind citizens willing to make a blood donations that the activity is considered essential under most Safer at Home orders. According to the FDA, blood and blood components are not known COVID-19 transmitters and there have been no known cases of transfusion-transmitted COVID-19 illness.

There is a Tullahoma Community Red Cross Blood Drive at 2211 North Jackson Street today from 12 to 5 p.m. and second at Traders Bank on Tuesday, April 14 from 2-6 p.m. Blood Assurance will also host a drive at Trinity Episcopal Church in Winchester on April 3 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Click here to find more Red Cross Blood Drives and click here for Blood Assurance details. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

REAL ID deadline pushed back to October 2021 due to COVID-19

Federal officials can quickly identify Real ID credentials by the gold star in the top right corner. {Art Provided}

STATE NEWS — The Department of Homeland Security recently decided to postpone the REAL ID deadline to next October according to statement from Acting Secretary Chad Wolf.

“Due to circumstances resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and the national emergency declaration, DHS, as directed by President Trump, is extending the REAL ID enforcement deadline,” Wolf stated.

To obtain a REAL ID you’ll need an original copy of the following: proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate, proof of your Social Security Number, and two proofs of Tennessee residency such as a home utility bill or vehicle registration. For a complete list, click here.

According to the state’s website, “A REAL ID will cost the same as current Tennessee licenses and IDs. If it is time to renew your license, the cost to obtain a REAL ID driver license or Identification credential will be the standard renewal fee of an 8-year credential. However, if you are not within your renewal period and you wish to obtain a REAL ID compliant credential, you will be charged a duplicate fee.”

Anyone issued a Tennessee drivers license after July 1, 2019 should already have a REAL ID. Look for the gold star in the top right corner. The new IDs are not mandatory. If you choose not to get a REAL ID, the words “Not for Federal Identification” will appear on the top of your license. You need a federal ID to board any airplane. For more information, click here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

TN lawmakers look to end “lunch shaming” students

NASHVILLE — Imagine being from a family that barely makes ends meet. Now imagine that your child, behind on their school lunch account, was shamed by educators by being required to do chores or miss school activities.

Under a new Tennessee House bill educators would be banned from “lunch shaming” students. It would also be illegal to publicly identify students as being unable to pay. Educators would also be required to assist parents in applying for free or reduced-price lunches.

The House Education Committee narrowly passed the measure by a 13-10 vote today. It must still pass the House and Senate to become law. To voice your opinion, contact Moore County’s Representative Iris Rudder at 615-741-8695 or Moore County’s Senator Shane Reeves at 615-741-1066. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

In the wake of toddler disappearance, state lawmakers consider Evelyn’s Law

Pictured is 15-month-old Evelyn Boswell, who remains missing. An online petition seeks to make waiting to report a missing child a crime. {Photo Courtesy of the TBI}

STATE NEWS — It’s a missing child case that has even the least skeptical among us scratching our collective heads. Evelyn Boswell, a 15-month-old toddler from Sullivan County was last seem by family members in December. Despite that fact, no one reported her missing until February 18. According to published reports, Evelyn’s grandfather reported her disappearance to the Department of Children’s Service, stating that family members had not seen the child in two month. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued an Amber Alert the following day.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, they’ve received over 500 tips in the search for Boswell but there have been no credible sightings.

Though authorities still are clear on the why there was a delay and Evelyn’s still missing as of press time, an online petition with over 17,000 signature is calling for Tennessee lawmakers to create Evelyn’s Law, which would make it illegal to wait longer than 24-72 hours to report a missing child. You can view the petition by clicking here.

One Bristol lawmaker feared the law could do more harm than good. Senator Jon Lundberg told reporters that most parents report missing children immediately and that the Boswell case seemed like an “anomaly.”

To voice your opinion, contact Moore COunty’s Representative Iris Rudder at 615-741-8695 or Moore County’s Senator Shane Reeves at 615-741-1066. If you have information that might help find the toddler, call 1-800-TBI-FIND.•

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Senator Bowling kills state deregulation bill

STATE NEWS — A week ago State Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) introduced a senate bill that would remove state license requirements for over 25 professions. It was one of two companion bills. In the House, Representative Martin Daniel (R – Knoxville) introduced HB 1945 and in the Senate Janice Bowling (R – Tullahoma) introduced SB 1914.

A couple of days later Senator Bowling place her bill in a general subcommittee – effectively killing it. Any bill that passes the House must then progress to the Senate. If the bill remains in subcommittee, there no way for it to progress into state law.

The bills sought to remove licensing requirements for 27 different professions including: accountants, architects, engineers, landscape architects, and interior designers, barbers, cosmetologists, funeral directors and embalmers, contractors, home inspectors, plumbers, locksmiths, real estate brokers, land surveyors, soil scientists, auctioneers, those involved with pesticides, rental location agents, private investigators, polygraph examiners, individuals engaged with fire protection sprinkler systems, servicers of fire extinguishers and related equipment, alarm contractors, private protective services, geologists, tattoo artists, body piercing artists, real estate appraisers, and professional employer organization.

Supporters said that occupational licensing is an impediment to employment. Opponents say that consumers who are exposed to potentially dangerous instruments and harmful chemicals as well as those exposed to financial losses should remain protected. In particular, cosmetologist were very vocally opposed to the bill on social media and organized a Change the Bill Campaign. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

General Assembly considers legalizing, decriminalizing recreational marijuana

STATE NEWS — On Friday, State Sentor Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) introduced a bill (SB 1849) that would legalize recreational marijuana in Tennessee. If approved, the legislation would create a 12 percent tax on the sale of regulated weed up to half an ounce. According to the bill, 20 percent of that money would go to the General Fund, 30 percent would fund state infrastructure, and the remaining 50 percent would go toward public education. To read that bill, click here.

Under the bill, sellers would need a registered business and a license from the state to legally sell weed. Additionally the bill would apply to the growing, processing, manufacturing, delivery and sale of marijuana. Those licensed would also be able to sell only at locations zoned for sale.

A corresponding House Bill (HB 1610) sponsored by Representative Rick Staples (D-Knoxville) would allow each county governments to hold a referendum vote to decide whether the legal marijuana industry is right for their county. That bill would also decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession statewide. To read that bill, click here.

Proponents of the bills say they could reduce Tennessee’s opioid epidemic, create jobs, free up law enforcement resources, and add billions to state coffers. Opponents claim legalization will lead to increased teen use, more pot-related traffic accidents, and harm the environment.

According to state figures, more that 2,600 farmers are already licensed to grow hemp in Tennessee. It’s similar to marijuana but does not contain THC, the chemical that causes individuals to feel high. Hemp can be used to make cloth, rope, construction materials, and produce cannabidiol or CBD.

If approved, the new proposed bills would be scheduled to go into affect on July 1, 2020. To let your representative know how you feel, contact Representative Iris Rudder at 615-741-8695 or Senator Shane Reeves at 615-741-1066. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}