(NASHVILLE, TN), December 21, 2011 – Several key laws sponsored by Senate Judiciary Chairman Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) and Senator Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield) will take effect on January 1 as the new year begins. This includes major legislation implementing 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.
“Meth is a growing and costly scourge on too many communities in our state,” said Senator Beavers, prime sponsor of the bill. “While it robs users of their health and cognitive abilities, it robs children of any chance of a normal childhood. Meanwhile, the byproducts of the drug’s production are quickly and quietly ravaging our environment. This new law is a huge step in attacking the meth problem we face in Tennessee.”
Roberts, who co-sponsored the bill said, “Previously, there was no mechanism in place in Tennessee to block illegal PSE sales in real time, with pharmacies and retailers having to rely on handwritten, paper logbooks to track purchases. As a result, criminals learned to circumvent the system. This new law addresses the problem on the front end so we can curb the meth production in our state.”
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.
Another key law co-sponsored by Beavers and Roberts that is set to take effect January 1 is the “E-Verify” system to 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. The measure would penalize businesses for violation of the law with escalating consequences for repeated offenses. It also provides a mechanism for small businesses without Internet access to call the Department of Labor for verification assistance.
“This new law helps ensure that those who are working Tennessee are here legally,” said Senator Roberts. “The E-Verify system has been highly successful in localities where it has been used.”
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. Fifteen states, including five which are adjacent to Tennessee, require the use of E-Verify for public and/or private employers. The E-Verify system is 97.4 percent accurate.
“Federal contractors or subcontractors have been required to use E-verify since 2008 to determine employment eligibility of employees performing direct work,” added Beavers. “I am very pleased that both of these new laws will be enacted as we ring in the new year.”
Also set to take effect as we ring in 2012 is a new law 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, co-sponsored by Beavers and Roberts, 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 simultaneously for registration and an absentee ballot request.
Finally, legislation sponsored by Beavers will take effect on January 1 to require the testing of a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level in cases where the driver has previously been convicted of a DUI or when there is a child present in the vehicle. Tennessee’s DUI law already requires BAC testing when there is serious bodily injury to a victim or death. This measure simply puts these two additional conditions into the law when testing must be performed, whether or not the driver consents. The test results may be offered into evidence, subject to the rules of evidence.