Several East TN families look to change laws at Capitol

A bill to improve electrical safety at marinas is going to the full Senate, thanks to a passionate plea Wednesday afternoon from an East Tennessee mother.

Jessica Winstead, the mother of Noah, a boy who died from electrocution while swimming in a marina, was in Nashville Wednesday to encourage lawmakers to consider a bill that could prevent a future tragedy.

The "Noah Dean and Nate" bill refers to 10-year-old Noah Dean Winstead and 11-year-old Nate Lynam, two best friends electrocuted while swimming together at a marina in Cherokee Lake on July 4, 2012. It would require ground fault breakers at marinas that detect electrical leakage and would immediately shut off the power, annual inspections of electrical equipment at marinas, and clear signs at marinas that warn of electric shock risk near docks.

Winstead says the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance has taken up the cause and would have the State Fire Marshall do the inspections.

Jessica Winstead said she felt it was important to be proactive in her push for change to the state's laws.

"We really wanted to put a face to our bill and let people know our story," she said.

She said at first, it was an overwhelming experience to draw up and promote her legislation. However, she felt moved to educate other East Tennessee families.

"That's a big deal right there not just because it's our story, but it what's people can do to safeguard their own private docks and what marinas can be doing," she said.

Several other East Tennessee families have looked to bring about change in Tennessee too.

The Christians and Newsoms have helped push two bills through the senate that aim to reform the state judicial system in memory of their slain children who were tortured and murdered.

While Amanda Moore and her family got both chambers to sign off on "Amelia's law". The bill is named after her daughter Amelia Keown, who died in 2012, after her car was hit by a driver who was under the influence of drugs.

The legislation would allow a judge to order offenders and parolees, like the driver who killed Keown, to wear monitoring devices if alcohol or drugs played a role in their crimes.

She said her family's work has had already made an impact.

"I've had several emails and phone calls from people who told me they stopped doing drugs or they repaired relationships with family they haven't spoken to in years over what happened to Amelia," Moore said.

Now, she's just waiting for Governor Bill Haslam to sign her bill into law. Moore said she believes that may happen in April.


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