NASHVILLE — Tennesseans who want a lifetime state-issued handgun carry permit are getting a price cut, while persons convicted of a third domestic violence offense risk more jail time under new state laws that took effect Sunday.
Another new law requires most Tennessee students to take a high school civics test based on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services exams for citizenship, although the students don't have to pass it to graduate.
And a law pushed by local legislators now bars the Hamilton County Water & Wastewater Treatment Authority from making landlords — or new renters — pay if their previous tenants skipped out on water and sewer fees.
While many new laws from Tennessee legislators' 2016 session took effect as soon as they were signed, and some on July 1, several dozen others only took effect when the new year began.
Among them is the price cut for lifetime handgun-carry permit fees. The lifetime permit fee falls from $500 to $200 for those renewing a permit. First-time applicants will pay $315, which includes the application fee.
And now Tennesseans ages 18 through 20 can obtain carry permits if are active-duty military members or veterans. Otherwise, the minimum age for a carry permit is 21.
The Public Safety Act that took effect Sunday originated from Gov. Bill Haslam's Task Force on Sentencing and Recidivism.
The law boosts penalties for a number of violent offenses, while "retooling" community supervision programs at a projected savings of $80 million.
It provides that routine violations of probation and parole rules, such as missing an appointment, don't get violators automatically sent back to prison when their noncompliance doesn't rise to the level of a new criminal offense.
On domestic violence, a major issue in Tennessee, law enforcement officers now may seek an order of protection on behalf of a domestic abuse victim.
If a law enforcement officer arrests someone on a charge of domestic abuse, an automatic order of protection will be issued when there is probable cause to believe the alleged assailant used or attempted to use deadly force against the victim.
A hearing is required within 15 days of the automatic order of protection being issued. The new statute also boosts third and subsequent domestic violence convictions from misdemeanors to automatic Class E felonies. There is no change in the current minimum 90-day sentence for a domestic violence conviction.
Another new law requires those convicted of three or more charges of aggravated or especially aggravated burglary serve a minimum of 85 percent of their sentence. The same goes for the top three most serious felonies for the sale, manufacture and distribution of controlled substances.
A separate new statute says anyone who is convicted of or pleads guilty to vehicular homicide by intoxication is not eligible for parole.
Contact Andy Sher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-255-0550. Follow on Twitter @AndySher1.