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New state laws went into effect Jan. 1st

A collection of bills sponsored by Senate Republicans became effective on January 1, 2023. This includes key legislation that provides tax relief to farmers. The law exempts farmers from sales tax on items and services used for agriculture production, including building materials, repair services, and labor, among other expenses used in agriculture production.

The tax reduction totals $2.8 million, and does not include items such as automobiles, household appliances, or fuel used in vehicles that travel on public highways in the state.

“Agriculture is the backbone of Tennessee’s economy, and I am glad we can provide assistance to hardworking farmers who are dedicated to putting food on the tables of families across the region,” said Senator John Stevens (R-Huntington), who sponsored the legislation. “By eliminating this sales tax, we can help small family farms stay in the family for generations by lowering costs and making it easier to turn a profit. I am very pleased to have had the privilege to sponsor the legislation that made this possible.”

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Another new law aims to support foster youth. The law reimburses eligible relatives of foster youth to support the cost of raising the child. It also expands eligibility to ages 18-21 for foster youth transitioning from state custody to adulthood to access services. 

“This legislation will help keep foster kids in family without them coming into state custody and experiencing the trauma that can occur,” said Senator Page Walley (R-Savannah), who co-sponsored the bill. “I believe this legislation is a step in the right direction for our kids, our families and our state.”

Two other new laws offer consumer and privacy protections. One of them requires businesses that allow someone to sign up for a service or subscription online to provide a clear way to end or cancel the subscription without any additional steps. If a company violates the act, then the individual who suffered a loss may bring civil action for damages. 

The other law strengthens privacy protections for Tennessee homeowners who may not want their home address easily accessible. The law allows homeowners to file a written request to the property assessor to have their first and last name appear as “unlisted” in the ownership field of online databases. 

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“There have been instances where law enforcement officers, in particular deputies or police officers have had individuals find out where they live and literally come to their homes,” said bill sponsor Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville). “This law would help prevent situations like that from happening.”

Another new law mandates annual human trafficking training. The new law requires the Department of Correction, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and the Department of Human Services are directed to work with a nonprofit charitable organization to provide mandatory training to the appropriate personnel on the identification, intervention, prevention and treatment of human trafficking victims.

The Tennessee General Assembly will convene January 10th to begin the 2023 session of the 113thGeneral Assembly.

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