Every July 1st, the Florida legislature causes our law library to fatten up because this is the day that new Florida laws coming to effect. This year, 130 new laws were signed by Governor Scott. Several of the new laws simply made technical changes to state statutes or many more were tied to the $78.2 billion spending plan. For a breakdown of all the new Florida laws, WPTV.com gives a thorough summary of the laws. Below are just some of them:
- There are tax cuts on the cost of gun club memberships, college textbooks, luxury boat repairs, certain agricultural supplies and services, school extracurricular fundraisers, aviation fuel at select flight-training academies, and on motor vehicles purchased overseas by internationally deployed service members from Florida.
- There should be a reduction of the communications-services tax on cell-phone and cable-TV bills which could save a projected $20 a year for people paying $100 a month for the services.
- The sales-tax-holiday is extended to 10 days starting Aug. 7 on clothing under $100, school supplies that cost $15 or less and the first $750 of personal computers purchased for non-commercial use.
- A hot topic is the required 24-hour waiting period before women can have abortions. Under the law, information about abortions must be provided in person to the women at least 24 hours before a procedure is performed. There are exceptions for victims of rape, incest, domestic violence or human trafficking --- but those victims can waive the 24-hour wait only if they can produce police reports, restraining orders, medical records or other documentation.
- The "All-American Flag Act" became law requiring U.S. and Florida flags purchased by governments in Florida after Jan. 1, 2016, to be made from materials grown, produced and manufactured in the United States.
- The law is now clear that local law-enforcement agencies cannot use ticket quotas. Also, the law requires individual local governments to submit reports to the Legislature if traffic-ticket revenues cover more than 33 percent of the costs of operating their police departments.
- No Drones. SB 766 prohibits the use of aerial drones to capture images that could infringe on the privacy of property owners or occupants. However, the prohibition doesn't include agencies countering the risk of terrorist attacks, police who obtain search warrants that authorize the use of drones, property appraisers making tax assessments, and utilities maintaining their facilities. Reminds me of a Modern Family episode.
- Thank goodness Chuck E Cheese can stay open! HB 641 became law that clears up confusion created by a 2013 law that shut down Internet cafes. This year's law is intended to make it clear that amusement games can continue operating at businesses such as Dave & Buster's and Chuck E. Cheese's.
- HB 269, allows terminally ill patients to access certain experimental drugs. Dubbed the "Right to Try Act," the law focuses on drugs that have been through what is known as "phase 1" of a clinical trial but have not been approved for general use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- HB 4011, repeals a law capping at four the number of vehicles that can be covered by a single family insurance policy.
- Your email address is protected! SB 7040 was passed that provides an exemption to public record requests as to email addresses that the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles collects related to driver's licenses and motor-vehicle records. Also, SB 200 exempts taxpayers' email addresses obtained by tax collectors in the process of sending tax notices.
- People without conceal-carry permits can now pocket their weapons when forced to leave home because of hurricanes and other disasters.
- Rural letter carriers can drive without a seat belt while working their route.
- Lastly, in an attempt for younger votes, there will be fewer tests given to public-school students.
I know, it seems crazy to have so many laws, but laws are needed in a civilized society. In order for us all to enjoy the peace we celebrate this weekend, we need laws – even some crazy ones!
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