Each July 1 in Tennessee, many of the laws approved during the previous legislative session go into effect. Here's a quick rundown of some of the new laws:
Workers With Handgun Permits Can Now Store Their Guns In Their Cars While At Work: Or can they? The highly-publicized "Guns in Trunks Law" was designed to let a gun owner with a handgun permit bring the gun onto company property, as long as it was stored in a safe location, such as a trunk or glove box. But a recent opinion by Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper concluded the law doesn't prohibit an employer with a no-guns policy from firing any worker that chooses to bring a gun through the company gates.
Statute of Limitations Expanded For Sex Crimes Against Children: This new law gives children forced into prostitution a longer time to pursue legal action once they become adults. For most child prostitution and trafficking offenses, the victim now has 15 years from the date of his or her 18th birthday during which to press charges.
More Drunk Drivers Can Now Be Forced to Use Ignition Locks: In the past, drivers who were convicted of DUI offenses in which their blood alcohol level exceeded .15% could be given an ignition lock. The device requires a driver to pass a breath test before the vehicle will start. The new law lowers the blood alcohol requirement from .15% to .08%.
An Assault Against a Health Care Worker Carries Stiffer Penalties: Nurses and other health care providers now share some of the same personal protection as police officers while in the line of duty. In the most serious cases, this law increases the fine for assaulting a health care worker to $15,000.
Grocery Tax Lowered to 5.0%: As of July 1, most food items at Tennessee grocery stores will cost a bit less. This law lowers the food tax from 5.25% to 5.0%. Prepared food, dietary supplements, candy, alcohol and tobacco are not included in the new tax rate.
New Method of Taxing Beer: Tennessee has had the highest beer tax in the country, partly because wholesalers were taxed 17% for every barrel of beer. As beer prices rose over the years, so did the amount wholesalers had to pay. The new system levies a flat rate of $35.60 per barrel. Tennessee will still maintain its distinction of having the highest tax; however, other states will eventually catch up and pass Tennessee.