Several key bills sponsored by Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) will become effective on July 1, including legislation to help stroke patients get the best emergency treatment possible and two new laws addressing human trafficking. July 1 marks the beginning of the new fiscal year and is the most common date assigned for enactment of legislation.
"Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in Tennessee," said Sen. Ketron. "Time is of the essence from the onset of symptoms to arrival at an emergency room capable of treating stroke patients. This new law requires the Tennessee Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Board to create protocols in order to get stroke patients to the best treatment facility possible to save lives and help patients retain quality of life."
Ketron said the Department of Health will recognize approved hospitals on their website that will provide better coordination between EMS, health professionals, and treatment facilities to ensure stroke patients get to the best medical centers as quickly as possible.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING: The human trafficking laws include a measure which makes promoting prostitution punishable as trafficking for a commercial sex act when the victim has an intellectual disability. This action allows prosecutors to charge a defendant with a Class D, instead of a Class E, felony, stiffening penalties for the crime. The other law creates a path for juvenile victims of human trafficking to have their records expunged if the judge finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that the conduct occurred as a result of the person being a victim.
"Both of these bills are part of our effort to reduce human trafficking and help victims recover," added Sen. Ketron. "The rate of serious violent crime, including rape and sexual assault, for persons with disabilities is more than three times the rate of other victims. The first law increases penalties for traffickers who prey on victims with an intellectual disability. The second law gives juvenile victims of human trafficking an opportunity to clear their record and move forward with their lives as productive citizens.
Ketron said the legislation builds on a series of laws passed since 2011 addressing human trafficking, action which has earned Tennessee Shared Hope International's highest ranking. The TBI has reported that human trafficking is the second-fastest growing criminal industry, just behind drug trafficking.
FIRST RESPONDER MENTAL HEALTH: Another new law sponsored by Ketron which will become effective on July 1, provides any EMS or professional firefighter with at least 10 visits or sessions with a mental health service provider for treating PTSD through the employee's health benefits.
"These first responders see a lot of trauma in the line of duty," added Ketron. "This legislation ensures that if they need services for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) they can receive it."
Finally, Sen. Ketron sponsored a new law reducing regulatory hurdles faced by high performing teachers who are licensed in other states and want to teach in Tennessee.
A full list of laws is posted on the General Assembly website at: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/legislation/publications/Effective%207-1-2018.pdf