New Florida Laws Go Into Effect Today

A number of new Florida laws, passed by the Legislature during the 2012 session, will go into effect July 1.

Here’s a sampling:

Inspirational Messages in Public Schools

Senate Bill 98 allows local school boards to set guidelines for students desiring to offer “inspirational messages,” which could include prayer, at any school event.

It was passed in the Senate by a 31-8 vote and the House by an 88-27 vote.

Hunting, Fishing on Private Land

House Bill 313 limits the liability of landowners who contract with the state to allow their private land to be used by the public for hunting, fishing and other recreational purposes. HB 313 unanimously passed in both the state Senate and House.

Renewing Concealed Carry Permits

House Bill 5601 reduces the fee for a new concealed carry weapons license application from $85 to $70 for a seven-year license and reduces the fee for a renewal of a concealed carry weapons license from $70 to $60 for a seven-year license. HB 5601 passed in the state Senate by a 31 to 6 vote and passed in the state House by a 98-15 vote.

Permanent Disabled Parking Permits

Under Senate Bill 226, if a disabled resident’s blue permanent disabled parking permit is lost or stolen, a replacement will only be issued if the resident submits the same documentation required for renewals. The new law does not affect red temporary disabled parking permits, nor people who have disabled (wheelchair) license plates.

In addition, effective Oct. 1, any person issued a blue permanent disabled parking permit must renew the permit every four years and, when doing so, provide a certificate of disability completed and signed by a certifying authority within the last 12 months. Permit holders will not have to pay a renewal fee. Previously, those with blue disabled parking permits do not have to submit certificates of disability when renewing.

The blue disabled parking permit with a current sticker must be visible from the front and rear of a motor vehicle. One side of the permit must display the applicant’s driver license number or state identification card number along with a warning the applicant must have such identification at all times while using the parking permit.

This bill passed unanimously in the House and Senate.

Interscholastic Athletics Regulations

House Bill 1403 applies to the Florida High School Athletic Association.

The bill clarifies eligibility for transfer students, so that they can continue to play as long as their transfer is approved by the district school board.

 The FHSAA will be required to adopt bylaws for:

  • Required background screenings for investigators and reasonable conditions under which investigations can take place
  • Sanctions for coaches who have committed major violations
  • Procedures and standards for student eligibility determination

Essentially, the bill increases the FHSAA’s authority over adults who violate recruiting policies by authorizing the association to sanction coaches. These sanctions may include suspension of coaches from interscholastic athletic activities. 

HB1403 also authorizes member schools to seek reimbursement from coaches who commit major violations that lead to financial penalties against the school.

Under the new law, member schools will have a heightened responsibility for notifying parents when their child’s eligibility status is the subject of an investigation. Principals of member schools will be notified of procedures regarding the school’s responsibilities if the association conducts an investigation of the school’s athletic program.

The bill was approved by the Senate 21-18 and by the House 78-34.

Crackdown on Timeshares

House Bill 1001 cracks down on deceptive marketing practices by companies trying to resell timeshares. It requires resale agents to fully disclose their terms, ban them from collecting a fee until a signed contract is in place and prohibit them from saying they have an interested buyer unless they can provide contact information for that person to the owner.

It was passed unanimously in the House and Senate.

Video Voyeurism

Senate Bill 436 bans anyone from videotaping a person without his or her knowledge in a “residential dwelling.” Violators over 19 years old will face five years in prison. For those under 19, it’s a misdemeanor.

It passed by unanimous vote in both the House and Senate.

Personal Injury Protection Insurance

HB 119 is intended to crack down on epidemic of fake accidents in Florida. It was approved in the Senate by a 22-17 vote and in the House by an 80-34 vote.  

Under the new law, a crash report must include information about all drivers and passengers.

In addition, it tightens the licensing requirements for clinics and creates a new organization to combat PIP fraud.

The new law also requires insurers to reduce rates by 10 percent by Oct. 1, or explain to the state why that is not feasible. A second deadline of January 2014 requires a 25-percent reduction in rates or explanation of why that reduction cannot be achieved.

Adult Day Care Centers

Senate Bill 694 creates the Specialized Alzheimer’s Services Adult Day Care Act, which allows an adult day care center to apply to the Agency for Health Care Administration for a designation on its license as a “specialized Alzheimer’s services adult day care center.” The bill provides heightened requirements that an adult day care center seeking such licensure designation must follow. The bill received unanimous approval in both the Senate and House.

Official State Flagship

Senate Bill 326 designates the Schooner Western Union, a 130-foot historic sailing vessel of the tall ship class, as the official state flagship.

The measure passed by a unanimous vote in both the House and Senate.

For a complete list of bills, visit the Florida Senate’s website.