These new Tennessee laws are taking effect Jan. 1, 2023

Staff photo by Ricky Young / A "cancel subscription" option should become easier under a new Tennessee state law.
Staff photo by Ricky Young / A "cancel subscription" option should become easier under a new Tennessee state law.

NASHVILLE -- Tennesseans will see a handful of new laws go into effect Jan. 1, among them a pro-consumer law making it easier to cancel online subscription-based products and services.

While most new Tennessee laws are timed to take effect July 1, when the state's new fiscal year begins, a few are tied to New Year's Day.

Rep. Dan Howell, R-Ocoee, brought the legislation aimed at making it easier for Tennesseans to cancel automatic renewals on paid online subscription-based products and services.

After the measure, House Bill 1652, began moving in the legislature last winter, Howell said during an interview he brought the bill after a constituent expressed frustration about being subscribed unknowingly to situations and having no way to unsubscribe.

"I don't have a problem with auto-renewal" itself, Howell said, calling that "fine."

However, Howell added, he saw a problem when consumers decide they no longer want to auto-renew and there's no way to unsubscribe -- they can subscribe online but they can't unsubscribe online.

The law, Public Chapter 803, goes into effect at midnight Saturday.

OTHER NEW STATUTES

Another law taking effect is named after Dallas "DJ" Barrett, who died in an altercation with security guards at the Nashville honky tonk Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row in 2021.

The law requires new training for bar bouncers, including instruction in de-escalation and safe-restraint techniques as well as emergency first aid and CPR training.

Police said Barrett, 22, was held to the ground during the fight. The medical examiner said he died of oxygen deprivation, according to an account in The Tennessean.

Another new law, Public Chapter 785, requires the Department of Children's Services to provide financial stipends equal to 50% of the full foster-care rate to eligible relatives who are caregivers and have custody of a child who remains at risk of entering state custody. 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," Sen. Page Walley, R-Savannah, a bill co-sponsor, said in a statement. "I believe this legislation is a step in the right direction for our kids, our families and our state."

Legislative analysts project the annual cost of that for the state budget at $49.34 million by the 2026-27 budget year, according to a legislative fiscal note. If the program is successful, however, it could actually wind up saving taxpayers money, according to the bill analysis.

OTHER NEW LAWS INCLUDE:

Public Chapter 842: A directive to the state Departments of Correction, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services as well as Human Services to work with nonprofit organizations to provide mandatory training to appropriate personnel on the identification, intervention, prevention and treatment of human trafficking victims.

Public Chapter 996: The 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.

"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," bill sponsor Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, said in a statement. "This law would help prevent situations like that from happening."

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com.

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