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Law Stresses Guard Rail Safety

This information is provided by 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles and five other counties.

The 112th General Assembly has adjourned for 2022, and it was a very successful year. We have taken measures for Tennessee to be a better place in which to live, work and to raise a family. I will go over the laws passed this session over the next few weeks.

Hannah Eimers Roadside Safety Act - A new law requires robust safety testing of crash cushions, guardrails end terminals on public highways and roads to ensure safety on roadways.

The law is named after 17-year-old Hannah Eimers, who was tragically killed in 2016 in a car crash involving a guardrail on Interstate 75 in McMinn County. That guardrail design saw insufficient safety testing and has since been removed in the state.

Streamlining reporting system for dangerous road conditions — A new law aims to make it easier for citizens to report road hazards and settle claims with the state when vehicles are damaged on state-maintained highways.

It requires the state treasurer to work with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to develop and implement a centralized information system for reporting dangerous road conditions.

It also expands the authority of the state treasurer to settle citizen claims when personal property is damaged by road hazards such as potholes. The state received 1,800 claims for pothole and road hazard damage in 2021, and only 12 were settled.

Traffic safety — A new law allows a person convicted of speeding to take a defensive driving course within 90 days of their conviction to have up to 5 points removed from their driving record. This may be applied to only one speeding offense for each driving course completed and only once in four-years.

Increasing penalties for boating under the influence (Repeat from “Offenses”) — To help keep Tennessee waterways safe, a new law increases penalties for boating under the influence. Called “Nicholas’s Law,” it makes a boating under the influence conviction equal to that of driving under the influence for determining whether the offender is a repeat offender.

In other words, if convicted of boating under the influence and later convicted of driving under the influence, a driver could be punished the same as if they were guilty of two DUIs.

Using drones for emergency response - Under a new law, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) may use drones to aid in emergency response efforts. Previous law prohibited the agency from doing so.

The new law permits TEMA to use drones to survey the scene of a catastrophe or other damage, coordinate a disaster response, conduct damage assessments of property and infrastructure following a disaster and help with search and rescue efforts.

This change will enable TEMA to respond to disasters and complete damage assessments faster, which will result in completing federal assistance requests more quickly.

Ensuring safety of wake surfing — To ensure safety on waterways, a new law prohibits wake surfing between sunset and sunrise on a body of water of less than 50 acres and within 200 feet of any shoreline, among other new rules.

Large wakes can be very dangerous. They can contribute to substantial soil erosion along riverbanks and shorelines of lakes. In addition, large wakes can damage docks along rivers and lakes.

Cracking down on littering — To provide a new tool to neighborhood associations to prevent littering, a new law adds criminal littering and aggravated criminal littering offenses for which a neighborhood association may seek an injunction or restraining order prohibiting a repeat offender from entering the neighborhood.

It only applies to repeat offenders dumping 100 hundred pounds or more and targeting specific residential areas.

Increasing penalties for littering (Repeat from criminal offenses) — A new law increases penalties for illegal dumping of tires.

It makes knowingly dumping two or more tires on public or private property without permission a Class A misdemeanor offense of aggravated littering, and also adds a Class E felony offense for a first-time conviction when dumping eight or more tires for commercial purposes.

Protecting landowners leasing property for solar farms – A new law seeks to protect landowners leasing property for solar farms in a natural disaster or if and when the solar farms have to be decommissioned.

It requires grantees to remove the solar power facility when their lease ends and restore the land to as close as reasonably possible its condition before the agreement. The plan for doing so must be outlined in a detailed report.

The bill also requires including specific forms of financial assurance in the solar power facility agreement and does not prohibit a local government from regulating solar power facilities pursuant to its zoning authority.

As the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) works toward its goal of producing 10,000 megawatts of solar by 2035 — which will require roughly 80,000 acres of land, —landowners across West Tennessee and beyond are being approached by prospective leasers.

Sen. Hensley may be reached at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville ,TN., 37243, or by calling 615-741-3100, toll free 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100, fax 615-253-0231.

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald TN., 38462, his telephone is 931-796-2018, his cell phone is 931-212-8823, and his e-mail is:

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