(NASHVILLE, TN), December 20, 2011 — As Tennesseans ring in the New Year at midnight on January 1, several new laws sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) will be enacted that were passed during the 2011 legislative session. Among new laws set to take effect is one protecting the integrity of the ballot box by requiring voters to present valid photo identification when at the polls. Ketron said the new law is designed to reduce voter fraud while providing exemptions for those voting absentee, overseas, in nursing homes and for the infirmed and indigent, who may not be able to obtain proper identification.
Ketron also co-sponsored a new statute set to take effect as the new year begins to require private insurance plans to include coverage of hearing aids for children. The new law, which Ketron spearheaded in the last General Assembly, requires that health insurance policies provide coverage of up to $1,000 per individual hearing aid per ear, every three years, for every child covered as a dependent by the policy holder. He recently received an award from the Tennessee Disability Coalition for his efforts to pass the legislation.
“This is a much needed law,” said Ketron. “This will make these devices more affordable so these children grow and learn.”
Ketron also joined Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) in co-sponsoring a major E-Verify law which will go into effect January 1 to help ensure that new hires are in the state legally. The new law calls for businesses with over five employees to obtain a copy of his or her driver’s license or utilize the E-Verify system.
E-Verify, an Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration, allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees by entering their name and a social security number. It is free to employers in all 50 states, including Tennessee where more than 4,000 businesses have voluntarily participated in the system.
Ketron co-sponsored major legislation that will begin as the new year starts to implement a statewide electronic tracking system to curb meth production in the state. The system, called NPLEx (National Precursor Log Exchange), will monitor and block illegal purchases of over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE), a key ingredient in methamphetamine production.
The new law requires that as of January 1, 2012, all pharmacies must use NPLEx, which exports the data to law enforcement. NPLEx must have a stop sale mechanism in place by that time for potential purchasers over the allowable purchase limit and anyone on the meth offender registry.
Finally, Ketron co-sponsored a law that will take effect January 1 to enhance the voting procedure for those serving in the military by ensuring Tennesseans abroad who do not receive their official ballot in time can participate in an election. Tennessee ranks among the top states in the nation in the number of military personnel. The new law requires that the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot is accepted for all elections in which a person is eligible to vote; and may be used for registration and as an absentee ballot request.
“I am very pleased that all of these bills will be enacted into law,” Ketron concluded.