Tennessee Republican lawmakers approved many new laws this year that the state will enact starting Thursday, July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.
Tennessee State Senate GOP officials described the changes in an emailed press release on Tuesday.
New legislation, they said, “strengthens Second Amendment rights, protects the dignity of unborn babies, and ensures small businesses are not unfairly targeted during a pandemic.”
Among the new laws:
• Legislation that guarantees law-abiding Tennesseans can carry a firearm without a permit. Under the legislation, that State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and State Senate Judiciary Chairman Mike Bell (R-Riceville) sponsored, a citizen must have reached the age 21 years of age or older or are active duty military or honorably discharged military in order to qualify. The measure also cracks down on criminals by increasing penalties for theft or illegal possession of a firearm.
• Abortion providers must treat the remains of aborted children with the same dignity and respect provided to any other deceased human being. The Unborn Child Dignity Act, which State Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) sponsored, requires proper burial or cremation for a surgically aborted child. The law addresses the health, safety and moral concerns over how to properly dispose of human fetal remains.
• The Tennessee Business Fairness Act puts all businesses on the same playing field in a declared state of emergency, so small businesses are not forced to close while their bigger competitors stay open. Businesses can remain open during a pandemic if they follow guidelines that any government issues to keep their customers and employees safe. State Sen. Bill Powers (R-Clarksville) sponsored the bill.
• The Tennessee Accommodations for All Children Act, which Bell sponsored, requires a public school to provide a reasonable accommodation to a student who has conveyed through a written request that they are unwilling or unable to use multi-occupancy restrooms or changing facilities designated for the person’s sex.
• Another new law, which Bell also sponsored, ensures rioters who are paid or come from out-of-state receive a mandatory minimum sentence of 45 days incarceration. The court must order restitution for any injury, property damage or loss incurred as a result of the offense.
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