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Consumers May Block Uninvited, Random Text Messages

Information is provided by the office of 28th District State Rep. Joey Hensley, MD, R-Hohenwald, who represents, Giles, Lewis, Marshall, Maury and part of Williamson counties in the State Legislature.

Information on some laws passed in the last session of the State Legislature follows. Do-Not-Text law - The General Assembly passed legislation to allow Tennessee consumers to block unwanted text messages.

The law merges text message solicitations to the state’s Do Not Call Registry, and extends the same prohibitions, requirements, and penalties that apply to telephone solicitations to unwanted text messages.

It also prescribes a maximum penalty of $2,000 dollars for each violation of a text solicitation to a person on the registry.

The Tennessee Public Utility Commission (TPUC) would continue to oversee the registry, which includes landlines and cell phone numbers of Tennessee telephone subscribers who have elected not to receive solicitations. Businesses may not be included on the list.

Some exemptions to the law include invitations to be called by the person being called and solicitations on behalf of a not-for-profit organization. Ensuring condominiums are structurally safe — Lawmakers passed legislation to ensure condominium buildings are structurally safe to prevent tragedies such as the 2021 condominium collapse outside Miami.

The law requires the board of directors of condo associations in Tennessee to conduct a reserve study every five years to assess the condition, structural integrity and needed maintenance of their buildings.

The purpose of the study is to inform condo owners of the condition and life expectancy of common elements of the building so they can reserve necessary maintenance and replacement costs.

The study will analyze all aspects of the building, including the foundation, load-bearing walls, roof, plumbing, electrical and fire protection systems, among others.

Studies are expected to cost between $2,500 and $4,000 the first time they are completed, with follow-up studies typically costing less. Vehicle Immobilization Devices - The General Assembly passed legislation to establish statewide standards to protect consumers from unscrupulous practices of booting vehicles. The law clarifies that companies must remove the vehicle immobilization device or “boot” when the owner of the vehicle pays the company.

If there is a problem with the payment, the company must issue a notice and take the boot off immediately. The law also caps the boot removal fee at $75 a day. It only applies to private parking lots and clarifies that employees cannot earn commission or be contracted to remove or install boots, and it allows the Attorney General to prosecute violations of this measure through the Consumer Protection Act. Tennessee Information Protection Act - This law requires large technology companies like Google, Instagram and TikTok to fully disclose to consumers what information is collected about them through their online activities.

The act will require online platforms to disclose up-front exactly what personal information will be collected and how they intend to use it.

Tennesseans will also be able to opt-out of the selling of their personal information to third parties without discrimination.

Additionally, the legislation includes protections for biometric data that measures physical characteristics like voice records, fingerprints, retinal scans or facial recognition. Companies that misuse a consumer’s information will also be held accountable.

The bill gives the state attorney general authority to impose civil penalties if big tech companies fail to safeguard private data or violate consumer protections. Genetic information and life insurance providers - The General Assembly approved legislation that prohibits life insurance providers from canceling coverage for an individual or a family member based solely on their genetic information.

Providers would also be prohibited from requesting or requiring a genetic test or other specific DNA information as a precondition of insurability. Access to genetic data could only be provided with an individual’s signed, written consent. Protecting genetic information — To protect consumers’ genetic information, lawmakers approved legislation that prevents genetic testing companies from selling consumers’ genetic information without consent.

Companies are required to provide consumers information about the company’s data collection, use, access and security practices, among others.

Companies are also prevented from disclosing consumers’ genetic data to entities offering health insurance, life insurance, long-term care insurance or an employer of the consumer without consent.

Finally, the law authorizes the division of Consumer Affairs in the Attorney General’s office to enforce the legislation and requires that office to create a system for receiving complaints. Protecting Consumers from Increased Streaming Service Prices - The General Assembly approved legislation to continue an existing state policy that ensures no cities or counties can collect franchise fees.

This law arose after many municipalities attempted to force streaming providers such as Netflix and Hulu and their customers to pay cable franchise fees for content customers receive from the internet. Sen. Hensley may be contacted at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville , TN ., 37243,or by calling 615-741-3100, calling toll free 1-800-449-8366, extension 13100, or faxing 615-253-0231. His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, TN., 38462 or call 931-796-2018, his cell phone at 931-212-8823, or E-mail: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov


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This information comes from the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley, MD, R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles, Lewis, Marshall, Maury and part of Williamson counties. On Capitol Hill, Senat

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