NASHVILLE, Tenn., (April 30, 2015) – Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) won approval of major legislation during the recently adjourned 2015 session of the Tennessee General Assembly, including a bill establishing an online verification program to help ensure compliance with the state’s Financial Responsibility law. There are approximately 40,000 crashes a year that involve uninsured motorists, leaving those injured in such accidents with little recourse to recover damages.
Other bills sponsored by Ketron and passed by the General Assembly are a resolution opposing federal intervention into education, a bill banning powdered alcohol, a measure providing four new Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) agents to attack the problem of human trafficking, legislation extending the statute of limitations to prosecute promoting prostitution, a new law strengthening penalties against spectators at animal fights, and a proposal requiring the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to enroll all eligible people on the waiting list with a custodial parent or caregiver age 80 and over. This is in addition to a new law which adds an unmarried spouse as a surviving joint tenant so they can continue in the Homebelt program after the death of their husband or wife and legislation aimed at increasing seat belt use.
“We were able to get a lot done this year,” said Senator Ketron. “The uninsured motorist bill has come before lawmakers for several decades and it is one of the most significant pieces of legislation affecting our roads in many years. I was also pleased to see approval of legislation addressing human trafficking. The law passed this year will focus on getting the right training to law enforcement to address some of the problems that have plagued Tennessee in this area.”
Ketron had also worked on strengthening the laws against animal fighting for the past several years and was pleased that the General Assembly voted to raise the penalties for fight spectators this year. “Besides the cruelty to the animals, fighting events like dog fighting or cock fighting bring in many other criminal elements, including gang activity, illegal drugs, prostitution and gambling. That is not to mention that fact that children are exposed to these illegal activities when a parent brings them to a fight. If you don’t have the spectators, the events will dissipate and that is what this legislation aims to do.”
The Palcohol bill bans the sale of powdered or crystalline alcohol, a product recently approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which when mixed with water becomes a cocktail. The product is creating concern nationwide that it would be an easy and accessible target for abuse by underage drinkers, prompting thirteen states to enact similar legislation.
The legislation relative to enrollment of eligible people on a waiting list with the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities helps give custodial parents or caregivers 80 years of age or older peace of mind that their loved one is cared for as they face their own healthcare needs later in life.
“The stress on families caring for a loved one with an intellectual disability is extreme as caregivers are aging parents,” added Ketron. “Parents often have their own healthcare needs that compromise their ability to provide adequate support, putting the health and safety of all concerned at risk. After a lifetime of providing continuous support at no cost to the state, these elderly parents and custodial caregivers will benefit from the peace of mind that comes from knowing their family member will have needed services.”