(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) – Five key bills sponsored by Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) are among 171 new laws which will become effective in Tennessee on Wednesday. The bills include two new laws to curb human trafficking, legislation strengthening penalties against spectators at animal fights, a measure requiring the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to enroll all eligible people on the waiting list with a custodial parent or caregiver age 80 and over, and a statute to help first responders who contract Hepatitis C on the job.
“Several key bills we passed this year are effective July 1, including our human trafficking legislation” said Senator Ketron. “The law passed this year will focus on getting the right training to law enforcement to address some of the problems that have plagued Tennessee in this area. The budget, which is also enacted on July 1, provides for four additional special TBI agents to implement the new program.”
“Also effective July 1 is our new law extending the statute of limitations to prosecute promoting prostitution,” Ketron continued. “Often times, minors do not realize they have been a victim of this crime until well after they are 18. This new law extends the statute of limitations from 10 years to 25 years after the victim becomes 18 years of age to give them more time to address the issue and prosecutors more time to prosecute offenders who are promoting prostitution.”
Ketron said the legislation relative to enrollment of eligible people on a waiting list with the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities helps give custodial parents or caregivers 80 years of age or older peace of mind that their loved one is cared for as they face their own healthcare needs later in life.
“Parents often have their own healthcare needs that compromise their ability to provide adequate support, putting the health and safety of all concerned at risk,” added Ketron. “After a lifetime of providing continuous support at no cost to the state, these elderly parents and custodial caregivers will benefit from the peace of mind that comes from knowing their family member will have needed services.”
The animal fighting law increases the penalties for being a spectator at any animal fight to a Class A misdemeanor. It also establishes the offense of taking a minor under 18 years of age to an animal fight as a Class A misdemeanor with a minimum $1000 fine and closes a loophole allowing the distribution of animals with the intent to fight.
“The purpose of the legislation is to provide punishment stiff enough to put a dent in the pocketbook of animal fight organizers,” added Ketron. “Animal fighting attracts such criminal elements as the Mexican drug cartel that ran multi-ton quantities of meth and heroin through such events in Tennessee.”
The legislation to help first responders expands the presumption statute currently in state law to include Hepatitis C as being presumed to have been acquired in the line of duty in all cases involving emergency rescue workers. Currently that burden is on the first responder to prove they got the disease on the job.