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NASHVILLE — Tennessee 911 call operators and public safety dispatchers are now required to be trained and offer emergency CPR instruction by telephone under a new state law that took effect Jan. 1.

The law, which also extends civil liability protections to the emergency workers, is intended to address a situation in which not all Tennessee counties permit personnel to provide T-CPR, or telecommunicator cardiopulmonary resuscitation directions, to callers dealing with emergency cardiac events.

It is one of a handful of laws passed in 2020 that took effect on New Year's Day.

Other new laws include:

Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: In an effort to ensure pregnant workers have reasonable accommodations in the workplace, lawmakers passed a law which sets a presumption that any reasonable accommodations provided for employees with medical conditions be extended to employees who are pregnant. It also establishes clear guidelines for employers and employees on how to navigate pregnancy in the workplace.

If the pregnant woman has spoken with her doctor and needs "temporary reasonable accommodation to remain healthy and working," she will receive the accommodation unless it would impose a hardship on the business, according to state House officials. Examples of accommodations include a stool to sit on, extra restroom breaks and temporary limits on lifting.

If accommodations aren't made, women can seek recourse by bringing a civil action in court or bringing the issue before a state administrative law judge before going to court.

 

'Peer-to-peer' car sharing: The law sets up a regulatory process for the emerging peer-to-peer car-sharing industry. It includes consumer protections and sales-tax collection requirements for private car owners who rent out their cars or trucks using online or mobile applications.

The law clarifies that car-sharing companies making more than $100,000 are subject to Tennessee's recent "marketplace facilitator" law that requires them to collect and remit sales taxes to state and local governments. It also requires the vehicles be insured.

According to the Tennessee Journal, Nashville International Airport officials had complained that Turo, which bills itself as the "world's largest car-sharing marketplace," was advertising vehicles for hire without agreements with the airport such as those required of traditional auto rental companies or ride-sharing companies.

In October, Nashville airport officials announced they had struck an agreement with their first car-sharing company, Avail, a subsidiary of Allstate Corp.

 

Suicide prevention for veterans: The new law seeks to support and protect Tennessee veterans by requiring the state Department of Veterans Services to provide training in suicide prevention to their employees who directly interact with veterans.

The training is available free of charge to the department through suicide prevention networks, with the goal of getting these veterans the help they need to save lives.

 

Hiking minimum age for buying, using tobacco: Bowing to a new federal requirement signed into law by President Donald Trump as well as the threat of losing $32 million in federal funds, Tennessee lawmakers approved legislation effective Jan. 1 that raises the minimum age requirement for purchasing and using cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products as well as hemp from 18 to 21.

The list also includes vapor products.

 

Earlier retirement for correctional officers, EMS personnel: This law lowers the minimum years of service required for retirement for correctional officers and emergency services personnel. The requirement drops from 30 years of service to 25 years. However, if the employee chooses to retire at 25 years it would be with some reduced benefits.

 

Short-term rentals: A new law clarifies that some deed changes don't invalidate short-term rental permits. It is intended to ensure that homeowners who use their primary residences as short-term rentals won't be subject to commercial property tax. Taxes owed when short-term renting a property will be collected by web-based platforms and remitted to the Tennessee Department of Revenue. Officials say it is also expected to "significantly" increase tax revenue for local governments.

 

Municipal Utility Boards: This new law requires municipal utility boards or their governing bodies to establish guidelines for devoted revenues with the assistance of the Tennessee Comptroller's office and to generate an annual report of expenditures.

 

Tennessee Money Transmitter Act: The law updates the act in order to better address and support the evolving money transmitter industry and enable the state to "most efficiently and effectively provide appropriate supervision and regulation" for the industry, according to legislative officials.

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550. Follow on Twitter @AndySher1.

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