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From Tampons To Transportation, New Florida Laws Take Effect July 1

Jun 30, 2017
Originally published on June 30, 2017 3:17 pm

Ride-for-hire services like Lyft and Uber will have to comply with statewide rules, and religious expression at public schools will be explicitly protected in Florida, under new laws that go into effect Sat., July 1.

The changes are among 125 revisions the state Legislature passed and Gov. Rick Scott approved this year.

The new laws include a package offering more than $90 million in tax breaks over the next year, including doing away with the tax on feminine hygiene products.

Florida also has new rules for quickly notifying the public of toxic spills.  And a controversial law regarding charter schools will also go into effect.

Seventy-eight bills already became law upon Scott's signature, including a framework for expanding medical marijuana, and a plan to bond money for a controversial reservoir intended to help clean waterways in South Florida.

And a number of measures still require approval from voters before becoming law, including a proposal that would expand the homestead exemption by $25,000

 

Here’s more on some of the laws that will hit the books July 1:

TAX CUTS:

HB 7109, a business-friendly package, has a variety of start dates. The measure provides a three-day back-to-school discount on certain clothes worth up to $60 each, school staples up to $15 each, and personal computers that cost less than $750.  Two other key portions of the package — an elimination of sales taxes on feminine hygiene products and a reduction in a commercial lease tax —  go into effect on Jan. 1.

LAW ENFORCEMENT:

HB 111, establishes a public-records exemption for identifying information about murder witnesses. Supporters of the bill said many witnesses fear retaliation for cooperating with police.

HB 151, allows the use of "therapy" and "facility" dogs in courts to help provide support for children who testify in cases involving child abuse, abandonment or neglect.

HB 305, allows law-enforcement officers to review footage from their body cameras before filling out reports.

COMMUNICATIONS:

SB 90, carries out a constitutional amendment approved last August aimed at boosting the use of solar energy in the state. The amendment called for extending a renewable-energy tax break for commercial and industrial properties and making renewable-energy equipment exempt from state tangible personal property taxes.

HB 687, limits the ability of local governments to regulate types of equipment known as "small wireless facilities" in public rights of ways. The equipment is for emerging 5G technology.

EDUCATION:

SB 396, requires colleges and universities each year to provide students with financial information regarding their student loans.

SB 436, deals with religious expression in schools. The measure is intended to prevent school districts from discriminating against students, parents or school employees on the basis of religious viewpoints or expression.

HB 989, overhauls the state's policy on instructional materials to allow any county resident —  not just parents —  to challenge materials, such as books, used at schools.

HB 7069, a wide-ranging education bill that encompasses everything from school testing to recess. The $419 million bill sets aside $140 to encourage charter schools to locate near struggling traditional public schools, and includes funding for extra services for students at struggling schools, teacher bonuses and assistance for parents to help pay for education services for children with disabilities.

HEALTH CARE:

SB 2514, sets up a process for the state Agency for Health Care Administration to ask legislative leaders to release $1.5 billion for the Low Income Pool program after a final agreement is reached with the federal government. The program provides extra money to hospitals that serve large numbers of poor and uninsured patients. The wide-ranging bill also revamps the way nursing homes will be paid in the future in the Medicaid program.

BIRTH CERTIFICATES: 

HB 101, allows families to request certificates of “nonviable birth” after miscarriages. Called the “Grieving Families Act,” the measure gives parents the option of seeking certificates of nonviable birth for fetuses lost between the ninth and 20th weeks of gestation.

TRANSPORTATION:

HB 221, creates long-debated statewide regulations for “transportation network companies,” such as Uber and Lyft. The measure, backed by the ride-for-hire industry, includes insurance and background-check requirements that are less stringent than those sought by local governments.

HB 299, expands the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) to include Brevard County.

SB 368, designates 50 roads and bridges across the state. The measure names sections of Orange County roads after slain Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton and the late golf legend Arnold Palmer. In addition, a part of U.S. 441 in Miami-Dade County will be “Muhammad Ali Boulevard,” and a portion of U.S. 90 in Santa Rosa County will honor Wendell Hall, who retired last year after 16 years as the county's sheriff.

HB 865, increases the allowed weight of natural gas-fueled vehicles from 80,000 pounds to 82,000 pounds, the maximum amount under federal law. The new law also directs the state Department of Transportation to study the economic feasibility of acquiring the Garcon Point Bridge from the Santa Rosa Bay Bridge Authority, and orders a study of the boundaries of the transportation department's seven districts to determine the cost of creating an additional district around Fort Myers.

HB 1169, designates part of a road in Pinellas County as “Officer Charles `Charlie K' Kondek, Jr., Memorial Highway,” after a longtime Tarpon Springs police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 2014.

ENVIRONMENT:

SB 1018, requires stepped-up public notification of pollution incidents. The law was spurred by controversies last year in response to the handling of a sinkhole at a Mosaic phosphate plant in Polk County and sewage discharges into Tampa Bay. Owners or operators of facilities responsible for pollution will have to submit reports within 24 hours to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The department, in turn, will be required to post the information online within 24 hours.

BOATING:

HB 711, expands a registration-fee discount for boaters to purchase certain locator beacons. The discount was created last year in reaction to the disappearance of Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, two 14-year-olds from Tequesta, who went missing in July 2015 after steering a 19-foot boat out of the Jupiter Inlet into the Atlantic Ocean.

HB 7043, allows the owners of private submerged lands adjacent to Outstanding Florida Waters or an aquatic preserve to ask the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to establish boating-restricted areas solely to protect any seagrass and contiguous seagrass habitat within their private property.

STATE PARKS:

HB 185, creates a 50 percent entry-fee discount to state parks for families operating a licensed family foster home, and a one-time, annual entrance pass for families that adopt a special needs child.

 

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