Several new laws go into effect this year

Editorial Board • Jan 8, 2018 at 5:30 PM

If he’s willing, your barber can now come to your house to cut your hair. And if a police officer sees you on a cell phone driving through an active school zone, it’ll cost you $50. It should be more, but that’s all a new Tennessee law allows.

Various new laws and policies are now in effect in the state, and most benefit state residents. One that doesn’t is a policy that now prohibits hand-held signs in the Cordell Hull Building in Nashville. That policy, approved by Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, says the signs represent “a serious safety hazard,” but this is clearly an attempt to stifle speech and should be reversed.

You can bring your legal firearm to the new home of the legislature but not your signs? Ridiculous. This is nothing but an attempt to isolate our elected representatives from having to be bothered by constituents with a message.

Among the new laws is one of benefit to veterans. If you have passed small arms training or combat pistol training while serving in the military, you are now exempt from the firing range test that is typically needed to obtain a handgun carry permit. As to barbers, previously they could only cut your hair at home if you were ill. Now, barbers can perform services in all residences to which they are invited regardless of the person’s health.

If you want to be a new school bus driver, you will have to be at least 25 years old and complete a training program. A school transportation supervisor program will also be established that monitors and provides oversight for all local education agencies and charter schools.

And if you’re a Tennessee college student, the “Campus Free Speech Protection Act” will recognize your right to free speech — somewhat silly since we already have that right. But it also directs state universities, colleges and other places of higher education to give students the freedom to speak, write, listen, challenge, learn and discuss any issue.

Also under this law, institutions can no longer deny student activity fees to student organizations based on viewpoints, and guest speakers, invited by students or faculty, can no longer be barred just because their speech might be considered offensive or otherwise disagreeable. Unfortunate, but we do need such a law as some students attempt to stifle free speech.

If you’re a competent adult with a functional disability or a caregiver of a minor or incompetent adult, you are now allowed to direct and supervise a paid personal aide to perform health maintenance tasks, which a person without a functional disability would otherwise be able to perform for themselves.

And if you work for the Alcoholic Beverage Commission, you will no longer have any jurisdiction over the enforcement of criminal offenses involving marijuana.

If you drive a car at night, make sure your headlights pass a new state law that they must be white or amber. And all vehicles must have at least two headlights but no more than four — emergency vehicles are the only exception. And the “Motor Vehicle Recall and Disclosure Law” prohibits a dealer from selling used cars before obtaining a recall database report.

Good laws for the most part. All we need do is obey them.

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