Tougher Tennessee school bus rules among laws taking effect

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- School bus drivers must be at least 25 years old in Tennessee under one of 16 laws taking effect on New Year's Day.

Lawmakers made the change in reaction to a November 2016 school bus crash that killed six elementary school children in Chattanooga. The driver, Johnthony Walker, was 24 at the time.

The law also requires a school bus driver safety program, five consecutive years of driving experience for drivers and appointment of school district and charter school transportation supervisors.

Other new laws taking effect Monday require Tennessee public colleges and universities to spell out free speech policies; create a maximum $50 fine for talking on a hand-held cellphone while driving in an active school zone; and let trained soldiers bypass firing range requirements for a state handgun permit.