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New year, new laws in Tennessee: See what goes into effect Jan. 1

The 112th General Assembly passed dozens of new laws in education, absentee ballots, and police interaction with people who have disabilities.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new year means new laws. The 112th General Assembly passed dozens of new laws from education to wine sales.


“HB0016 enacts the "Teacher's Discipline Act," which establishes requirements and procedures for teachers to discipline students in the teachers' classrooms, including relocation of a student.”

If a student is being disruptive, a teacher can remove them from class. Next, the principal can decide to send the child back to into the teacher's classroom or not.

If a teacher doesn't agree with the decision, the teacher can file an appeal with their superintendent.

Policing and People with Disabilities

SB0110 enacts the Precious Cargo Act:" As enacted, enacts the "2021 Precious Cargo Act," which establishes procedures for certain citizens with intellectual or developmental disability or medical condition to communicate specific needs to law enforcement and first responders. - Amends TCA Title 55, Chapter 21 and Title 55, Chapter 4.

This new law is designed to help people with disabilities interact with law officers and first responders. Next year, you can register with the state when you apply or update your car registration. That notification would be recorded in the Tennessee Vehicle Title and Registration System (VTRS) database. That way, if a cop pulls you over, they'll be notified when they run your plate.

According to the law, the request must be accompanied by a written statement from a licensed physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or senior psychological examiner, or neurologist, stating that the driver of the car has an intellectual disability, a developmental disability, or a medical condition that may impede communications with, or impact the operator's encounter with, a first responder.

Criminal Justice 

SB0768 enacts the “Reentry Success Act of 2021”:  Local jails could get grants for helping inmates and reduce recitivism rates.

The new law is a multi-pronged approach to help improve public safety and reduce reoffending.

As part of the Reentry Success Act of 2021, local jail grants will be provided to facilities which design and implement strategies which improve the likelihood of successful integration back into the community, if proven effective.

The Evidence-Based Jail Programming project provides $5 million for programs demonstrated to reduce recidivism rates.

Voting and Absentee Ballots  

"SB1315 Election Laws:" enacts the "Tennessee Election Integrity Act," which requires that absentee ballots, other than ballots authorized by state or federal law to be delivered electronically to qualified voters who are entitled to vote by absentee ballot, include a watermark approved by the coordinator of elections; requires a counting board official to verify that the absentee ballots contain the watermark and reject any ballot that does not bear the watermark.

Starting January 1st, State absentee ballots will include a watermark, approved by the election’s office. If not, the absentee ballot will be rejected.


"HB0742 Wine & Wineries:" As enacted, prohibits licensure as a winery direct shipper of in-state or out-of-state wine fulfillment houses; makes various other changes regarding the operation of winery direct shippers and fulfillment centers.

A new law passed this year allows consumers to have wine shipped to them. Fulfillment house licensees now may only provide services related to the shipment of wine into or within Tennessee and only for wineries or direct shippers licensed in the state. 

The new law also creates a license for wine fulfillment houses. It also keeps out-of-state vendors from violating Tennessee’s existing state laws, by not paying state taxes.

Here’s a list of all the other laws.