(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) – Two major bills sponsored by Senator Ed Jackson (R-Jackson) and passed by the General Assembly are among 153 new laws which will become effective in Tennessee on July 1. One new law addresses opioid addiction by helping to ensure effective treatment methods are utilized, while the other aims to reduce recidivism through an innovative grant program for local jails that conduct successful reentry programs.
“Each year, about 5,000 Tennesseans leave our prisons after serving for crimes they have committed,” said Sen. Jackson, who is Chairman of the Senate Corrections Subcommittee. “We can either help them become productive, taxpaying citizens, or we can risk them turning back to a life of crime and create a never-ending cycle. This pilot program will help identify and formulate better policies that can be scaled throughout the state to reduce recidivism, make our communities safer, and help save taxpayer money.”
Tennessee spends over $1 billion for corrections or 6.74 percent of the state’s budget. It is the fifth largest line item in the budget.
The legislation addressing opioid abuse prevents over-prescription of addiction treatment drugs to ensure they’re used to treat addiction rather than perpetuate it. The bill is one of many General Assembly initiatives that complement the Haslam administration’s comprehensive opioid legislative package, TN Together, which is also set for enactment on July 1.
“Opioid addiction devastates our communities and our people,” added Sen. Jackson. “Too many Tennesseans have fallen prey to this debilitating pandemic. The goal of this new law is to get the prescriber and the patient focused on a full recovery from addiction. That includes the drugs used to treat opiate addiction.”
In addition, Sen. Jackson co-sponsored several other key laws that will take effect on July 1 including:
- Juvenile justice reform legislation which invests in treatment and addresses the problem of longer and ineffective incarceration for minor offenses, including those which would not be crimes for adults;
- A new law which aims to provide low level criminal offenders a fresh start in finding employment after serving time in prison by reducing barriers to obtain a professional license if the license sought is unrelated to past crimes;
- A new statue creating greater cooperation between the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and local authorities in order to prevent those with mental health issues from purchasing firearms;
- A measure to cut off the flow of funds used in the purchase of illegal drugs by addressing the use of gift cards obtained through retail theft which are very commonly linked to the purchase of opiates;
- Henry’s Law, named for a Knoxville teen who tragically died of an opioid overdose, which will increase jail time for drug dealers who distribute drugs to minors who die from an overdose; and
- The Rural Hospital Transformation Act which supports the financial viability of the state’s rural hospitals through a program that gives them the resources to assess and implement operational changes to help ensure financial viability in an ever-evolving healthcare marketplace.
“These new laws will positively affect Tennesseans in a wide variety of ways. I am very pleased they passed our General Assembly and believe they will change many lives for the better,” Jackson concluded.