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VOL. 35 | NO. 26 | Friday, July 1, 2011




Tenure reform, anti-terror laws effective Friday

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NASHVILLE (AP) — Laws that create tougher tenure requirements for teachers and crack down on terrorism are among a number of new measures that take effect in Tennessee on Friday.

The tenure law and anti-terrorist legislation are probably the most contentious of the bunch. Both drew protesters to the Capitol throughout their legislative process.

The tenure law requires a teacher to be on the job five years instead of three to get tenure and creates a way for job security to be revoked for poor teaching performance.

Critics of the law say the evaluation system to be used is suspect and that it hasn't been determined how best to rate educators whose subjects aren't covered by the state's value-added test scoring program.

New laws taking effect Friday in Tennessee will:

— Enact the state's $30.78 billion annual spending plan.

— Authorize a cyber-based public charter school that provides educational resources to students by way of the Internet in a "virtual" classroom setting.

— Allow employees to vote by secret ballot on whether or not they want to unionize.

— Allow an injured employee to collect unemployment where the employee loses his or her job due to a disability resulting from the work-related injury.

— Require anyone who claims to be a sports agent to register with the Secretary of State. Failure to do so could result in a penalty of as much as $25,000 and up to six years in prison.

— Prohibit an individual convicted of a felony for possession, use, or distribution of a controlled substance from being eligible to receive welfare benefits.

— Eliminate pretrial diversion for the most dangerous criminals in the state.

— Authorize judges to allow a district attorney to use a wiretap when the interception may provide evidence of criminal gang-related activities in aggravated burglaries.

— Add juveniles convicted of the most violent sexual offenses to the state's sex offender registry.

— Allow law enforcement to immediately put out information about suspects when a police officer is missing, injured or killed in the line of duty.

— Increase from three to five years the minimum time period a driver's license may be revoked for a third DUI offense.

— Measure allow companies to advertise on the state Department of Transportation's emergency trucks and 511 help phone line.

— Continue the hospital assessment adopted last year to prevent cuts to state hospitals.

— Add vehicles transporting certain organs for human transplantation to the current list of those authorized to display amber and white lights.

— Change the state's presidential preference primary date to the first Tuesday in March.

— Prohibit an operator from stripping rock from property without a permit from the state's commissioner of environment and conservation.

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