NASHVILLE,TN. (WLAF)- As Tennessee ushers in the new fiscal year on July 1, a several new laws passed by the General Assembly will go into effect. State Sen. Ken Yager (R-Kingston) was instrumental in passing many of these new laws to benefit Tennessee families, businesses and state employees as well as teachers and students.

Among the new legislation is:

-The new law that provides the largest tax cut in Tennessee history. On July 1 the Tennessee Works Tax Reform Act will cut taxes for Tennessee families and small businesses by over $400 million. It provides targeted relief to families with a three-month-long tax break on groceries from Aug. 1-Oct. 31. These cuts also aim to lower the tax burden on small businesses, boost Tennessee’s economic competitiveness and promote entrepreneurship.

-Measures to enhance school safety this year, including legislation that strengthens safety standards at public and private schools will take effect. The new law includes requirements such as classroom door locks, security vestibules for visitor entry and bullet-resistant film on exterior entry-level windows. The law also requires schools to develop annual safety plans that must include a newly required incident command drill for school leaders and law enforcement to prepare for various emergencies.

In the 2023 legislative session Yager sponsored two new laws that take effect July 1 that will improve state employee benefits.

-One of those new laws provides state employees with six weeks of paid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child. The law also expands employee benefits by providing state funds to cover 50 percent of dental insurance and 100 percent of long-term disability benefits. The law is part of a package of pro-life, pro-adoption bills passed by the General Assembly this year.

-Another law allows state employees to utilize the state sick leave bank when caring for a sick child after exhausting their own sick leave and taking five consecutive days with no pay. Previously, state employees could not utilize sick leave grants from the state sick leave bank for any illness of a family member.

-Expanded eligibility for the HOPE scholarship will also take effect. The law seeks to recruit, retain and reward eligible Tennessee HOPE scholarship students by allowing them to receive the HOPE scholarship until they have earned an advanced degree or for up to five years after initial enrollment – whichever is first. The HOPE scholarship is funded by the state lottery and is awarded to freshmen who are enrolled at an eligible postsecondary institution within 16 months after graduating from a Tennessee-eligible high school.

-Legislation that increases the amount of elective credit a student may receive for completing a released time course in religious moral instruction from a half credit to a one credit.