Several significant new laws are set to take effect Jan. 1 including legislation helping crime victims

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By Senator Page Walley

Several new laws passed by our General Assembly this year will become effective as we ring in the new year. This includes legislation I co-sponsored reaffirming the state’s commitment to victims’ rights. The new law outlines an order of priority for funds paid into court for any criminal case. It reorders the new priorities to ensure the victim is paid restitution first.
The legislation also extends the amount of time a victim has to apply for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund from one to two years. This fund reimburses victims of violent crimes and their dependents who have suffered out-of-pocket expenses due to physical injuries, loss of income or death. I am very pleased that it is going into effect and that it will help these crime victims recover losses.
An important new law is set to take effect on Jan. 1 to help our military service members. It allows military veterans who are honorably discharged to be given credit for active duty training and coursework, which is applicable towards occupational licensure. The goal is to help our military services members prosper and develop skills to advance their career opportunities. Our military heroes deserve to have their valuable military training count, and I was very happy to support an initiative which honors their service and experience.
Two important education initiatives will go into effect on Jan. 1. The first expands a great program which helps high school students earn college credits through our state’s Dual Enrollment Grants. It increases the number of dual enrollment courses paid for by the state from two to four. In recent years, the Department of Education has encouraged students to obtain four early post-secondary opportunities. This legislation allows students to have a full-time semester completed once they graduate from high school, and I was very happy to support its passage.
The other new law on education seeks to reduce recidivism among low-risk inmates in local jails by providing trade-related education. This legislation allows state community colleges and Tennessee’s Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) to partner with local governments to provide educational and workforce development programs.
Moving to other new laws that will be enacted on Jan. 1, the Precious Cargo Act is set to take effect. This legislation aims to help individuals who need assistance in expressing themselves or in exiting the vehicle when approached by law enforcement or first responders. It updates the Tennessee Vehicle Title and Registration System (VTRS) database in order for law enforcement to have the appropriate information when a check is run on the affected person’s license plate.
Another new law that will help some of our most vulnerable citizens addresses abuse of the elderly. It requires a petition for the appointment of a conservator to include a search of the Department of Health’s registry of persons who have abused, neglected or misappropriated the property of vulnerable persons. It also requires a search of the National Sex Offender Registry. This will help judges make more informed decisions and potentially prevent those with nefarious intentions from becoming conservators to protect our senior citizens.
Legislation passed by our General Assembly which allows athletes at Tennessee universities to financially benefit from their name, image and likeness is also effective on Jan. 1. Under the new statute, college athletes will be permitted to sign contracts to advertise for local businesses or other companies.
Finally, as we prepare to convene the 2022 session of the 112th General Assembly, I have been visiting recently with groups and citizens in the 26th Senatorial District to hear issues of importance to them. I appreciate the input I have received thus far and look forward to continuing to talk with folks in our district about their priorities for our state. I want to invite you to email, write or call me regarding your views on the issues we face in the upcoming year. Please email me at sen.page.walley@capitol.tn.gov; write me at 750 Cordell Hull Building, 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Nashville, TN 37243 or call me at 615 741-2368. I look forward to hearing from you.
Happy New Year! May God bless you in 2022.

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