TENNESSEE, USA — The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the work of state lawmakers, which limited the new laws that will be going into effect on January 1, 2021.
There are a few to take note of.
Among them is a big change in tobacco laws. Starting Friday, you will have to be 21 to buy cigarettes or other tobacco products in the United States. That includes vaping devices, e-cigs, and then the standard smoke or chew tobacco products. The FDA enacted the change nationwide, but state lawmakers had to amend some state laws to abide by the new federal guidelines.
Lawmakers also expanded the Amber Alert system. The Holly Bobo Act will allow alerts to be issued for missing or endangered young adults under 21. Bobo went missing as an 18-year-old back in 2011. It took years to find her body and her family believes an Amber Alert could have made a difference in the case.
A big change to the state's abortion law was passed but it is still being challenged in court. The Heartbeat Bill bans abortions after a heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks.
New legislation will make sure that 911 operators across the state can provide CPR instructions to callers in an emergency situation. Previously, not all counties allowed 911 operators to run callers through CPR instructions.
Another law will require the Department of Veterans Services to provide training in suicide prevention to their employees who directly interact with veterans.
The Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will ensure pregnant workers have reasonable accommodations in the workplace for the health and safety of the woman and her baby. Examples of accommodations include a stool to sit on, extra restroom breaks, temporary limits on lifting, or even the availability of water. It also establishes clear guidelines for employers and employees on how to navigate pregnancy in the workplace.