Gov. Lee's Balanced Budget, New Laws--Effective Saturday!

Jun 28, 2023 at 08:32 pm by WGNS

(NASHVILLE) This Saturday is July 1, 2023, the first day of the new fiscal year--not only for Murfreesboro, but for Rutherford County and yes--Tennessee. The work of the 113th General Assembly becomes law on Saturday. 

Among the many measures that will soon become law include Tennessee’s $56.2 billion balanced budget, historic tax cuts, enhanced school safety legislation, increases to teacher pay, as well as legislation to crack down on crime, improve health care, and strengthen adoption and foster care services.


Tax Cuts

On July 1, 2023, a new law will provide the largest tax cuts in Tennessee history. The Tennessee Works Tax Reform Act will cut taxes for Tennessee families and small businesses by over $400 million. It also provides targeted relief to families with a three-month-long tax break on groceries from Aug. 1-Oct. 31. These cuts also aim to lower the tax burden on small businesses, boost Tennessee’s economic competitiveness and promote entrepreneurship.

“In Tennessee we are committed to low taxes and believe that Tennessee businesses and citizens are in the best position to decide how to spend their own money,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin), who sponsored the historic tax cuts. “These bold tax cuts will provide more growth opportunities for businesses and financial relief for families on every-day expenses. Tennessee is one of the lowest taxed states in the nation, and this move to further cut taxes strengthens our dedication to being a pro-business and pro-family state.” 

School Safety

A comprehensive measure to strengthen security at schools across Tennessee will go into effect on July 1. The new law will improve safety standards and protocols at public and private schools. The legislation was first introduced in January, with several measures added following the deadly shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville on March 27. 

The measure requires every public and private school to keep doors locked at all times while students are present and develop annual safety plans that must include a newly required incident command drill for school leaders and law enforcement to prepare for various emergencies. It also creates new hardware security requirements for newly-built and remodeled schools. 

In addition to this legislation, lawmakers approved over $230 million in the budget to place a school resource officer (SRO) at every Tennessee public school, boost physical security at public and private schools, and provide additional mental health resources for Tennesseans.

“This legislation is the result of many months of work from every committee and was continuously improved upon throughout the 2023 session,” said Senate Education Chairman Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol), who carried the legislation in the Senate. “It is an unwavering commitment to do all we can to prevent future tragedies like the one at Covenant School. The important safety measures outlined in the bill will go a long way to ensuring our schools are secure.”

To further maintain school safety, on July 1 a new law will go into effect to implement a zero tolerance policy for threatening mass violence at school. A threat of mass violence at school will result in the student being expelled from school for at least one year. 


To continue the General Assembly’s efforts to support teachers, on July 1 the Teacher Paycheck Protection Act will go into effect to provide historic salary increases for Tennessee teachers. Under the new law, the base salary for teachers will increase each year until it reaches $50,000 in the 2026-2027 school year. 

“This move reinforces our commitment to Tennessee teachers and improving education,” said Senator Bill Powers (R-Clarksville), who carried the legislation to increase teacher salaries. “These pay raises will help recruit and retain talented teachers and mitigate teacher shortages. I look forward to continuing our work to support Tennessee teachers.”


The General Assembly passed several new laws this year to crack down on crime and protect victims that will go into effect July 1. These include new laws to:

  • Require risk and needs assessment for inmate sentencing credits to ensure that sentencing credits are only provided to criminal offenders who have earned the credits with good behavior - Public Chapter 458
  • Increase accountability for setting bond amounts by ensuring only elected judges can set bonds in cases involving certain violent felony offenses - Public Chapter 362 
  • Create lead prosecutors for crimes committed against children to increase resources to hold child abusers accountable - Public Chapter 237 
  • Strengthen Tennessee’s anti-stalking laws by prohibiting use of an electronic tracking or Global Positioning System (GPS) device to secretly monitor the location of an individual and/or their property without their consent - Public Chapter 349
  • Enhance the minimum sentence for murder from a Class C felony to a Class B felony -  Public Chapter 308
  • Increase penalties for rape and incest of a minor to a Range II Class B felony - Public Chapter 283 
  • Increase penalties for aggravated kidnapping and rape to be sentenced as no less than a  Range II offense - Public Chapter 155 
  • Require restitution be paid to children of a parent killed as a victim of DUI - Public Chapter 217
  • Impose stricter penalties for boating under the influence including increasing boating license suspension from 6 to 12 months -  Public Chapter 383 

“My home city of Memphis is plagued by some of the highest violent crime rates in the country, so addressing violent crime and making our communities safer is a top priority for me,” said Senator Brent Taylor (R-Memphis) who championed many of the new laws to crack down on crime. “I am glad that after July 1, violent criminals in Tennessee will face stiffer penalties, and there will be more accountability in our judicial system by ensuring only judges who answer to voters are able to set bonds for violent crimes.”

Health and Drug Abuse

On July 1, many new laws will go into effect to combat drug abuse and improve health outcomes throughout the state. These include legislation to: 

  • Create the Family Medicine Student Loan Repayment Grant to recruit physicians to serve patients in rural areas with health services shortages. The Grant will provide up to $40,000 per year in grants for up to five years to residents who commit to provide medical services in a Tennessee health resource shortage area for at least five years following residency training in family medicine -  Public Chapter 414
  • Restrict the sale of hemp-derived Delta-8 products to age 21 and up and impose manufacturing regulations on the products - Public Chapter 423 
  • Enact the “One Pill Will Kill Act”to increase the penalty for selling 0.5 grams or more of fentanyl, methamphetamine or cocaine from a Class C felony to a Class B felony - Public Chapter 386 
  • Combat distribution of xylazine – a large animal tranquilizer becoming more common among drug users – by imposing a Class A misdemeanor for the unauthorized possession of xylazine and a Class C felony for manufacturing or selling the drug -  Public Chapter 412 
  • Encourage medical treatment for drug overdoses by allowing law enforcement or the district attorney to extend criminal immunity to anyone experiencing a second or subsequent drug overdose and is seeking medical assistance -  Public Chapter 41 
  • Improve competition in the healthcare marketplace by strengthening the Right to Shop Act and allowing patients more options to negotiate lower prices with out-of-network providers  - Public Chapter 244

“These new laws take important steps to crack down on the distribution of dangerous, illegal drugs flooding Tennessee from the southern border and destroying the lives of our citizens,” said Senator Shane Reeves (R-Murfreesboro), a pharmacist. “I am also glad legislation I co-sponsored will be in effect to regulate the sale of Delta-8 products which can be harmful to minors.”

Adoption and Foster Care

Several new laws will go into effect July 1 to improve adoption and foster care services and protect Tennessee children. These include legislation to:

  • Enact the Forever Homes Act to provide support to foster and adoptive families and accelerate child placement - Public Chapter 187
  • Improve adoption and foster care proceedings to eliminate red tape in the adoption process and give foster parents more input and participation in the cases of children in their care - Public Chapter 263
  • Streamline adoption for newborns surrendered under the Safe Haven Law by lowering the time a surrendered baby can be adopted from 6 months to 90 days - Public Chapter 293
  • Create civil penalties against illegal adoption facilitators that take advantage of those seeking adoption by charging high, nonrefundable payments to match expectant parents with prospective adoptive parents - Public Chapter 361
  • Exempt litigation taxes for adoption proceedings to reduce financial expenses of adoption - Public Chapter 370

“On July 1 adoption and foster care services will be easier, quicker, and cheaper, and I am hopeful these changes will encourage more adoptive and foster care families in Tennessee,” said Senate Speaker Pro-Tempore Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin), who sponsored many of these new laws and co-chaired the Joint Legislative Adoption Caucus. “As a pro-life lawmaker, I am dedicated to improving adoption and foster care services because it is imperative to protect the lives of not only the unborn but also the lives of children beyond the point of birth by ensuring more children grow up in loving homes.”