Two new laws sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), one to protect the rights of employees to vote on whether or not they want to unionize by a secret ballot, and the other to strengthen the state’s anti-terrorism statues, are among a host of new public acts scheduled to go into effect in Tennessee Friday. Ketron also co-sponsored comprehensive legislation approved by the General Assembly this year aimed at curbing meth production that will take effect as the new month begins.
July 1 is a common enactment date for implementation of new laws mainly because it marks the beginning of Tennessee’s new fiscal year. The “Secret Ballot Protection Act” makes denial of secret-ballot elections illegal under Tennessee law, subject to a Class C misdemeanor offense. Ketron said it is a “counter measure to dangerous federal card check legislation that has been proposed in Congress.”
“The right to a secret ballot is sacred whether it is in the voting booth or in the workplace,” said Senator Ketron. “The card check system is not only un-democratic and un-American, but could hamper our ability to attract new business or drive those who are already here out of the state. We are working diligently to bring jobs to Tennessee by creating a business-friendly environment. This legislation aims to counter any future proposal that would subject employees to intimidation by allowing unions to organize simply by persuading a majority of employees to sign a union representation card.”
The anti-terrorism law scheduled to take effect tomorrow updates Tennessee’s Terrorism Prevention Act that was passed shortly after the 9-11 terrorist attacks to make the provision of “material support” a Class A felony. The law defers to designations already made by the U.S. Secretary of State and the Department of the Treasury. Ketron says it “helps to close the prevention gap left by the 2002 statute.”
“It should be a priority of ours to protect the citizens of our great state – there will be no prosperity without security,” Ketron added. “The law we passed provides a fair and even-handed approach that gets to problem of material support on the front end and provides our local law enforcement authorities with more tools to fight homegrown terrorism.”
Public safety is also the impetus behind a separate measure co-sponsored by Ketron and ready to take effect July 1 that stiffens penalties for making methamphetamines in the presence of a child and implements a statewide electronic tracking system to curb meth production in the state. The system, called NPLEx (National Precursor Log Exchange), will monitor and block illegal purchases of over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE), a key ingredient in methamphetamine production, although pharmacies have until January 1, 2012 to comply with reporting provisions of the new law. The new law also sets amounts of pseudoephedrine that can be purchased and strengthens penalties against those convicted of smurfing, or shopping for the product in multiple locations.
“This legislation is a big step in attacking the meth problem that is sweeping many communities in Tennessee,” said Ketron. “This was a collaborative effort between many parties, including law enforcement officials, pharmacists, and others. We believe it will truly make a difference in identifying those who manufacture this dangerous drug to curb the flow of meth in Tennessee.”