MARIJUANA The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 establishes the conditions under which low-THC marijuana may be grown, distributed, prescribed and used by medical patients experiencing certain symptoms and conditions. This type of medical marijuana will be available on January 1, 2015.
TAX FREE SHOPPING DAYS There are two more tax-free shopping periods in 2014. The school supply program is scheduled for three days, August 1st-3rd, and no taxes will be levied on energy and water saving devices priced under $1,500 from September 19th-21st.
DREAMERS TUITION Florida’s undocumented immigrants will be able to continue to attend Florida’s colleges and universities. Assuming students graduated from and attended a Florida high school for three consecutive years, they will now enjoy in-state tuition. Students must enroll within 24 months of high school graduation.
COLLEGE TUITION & FEES Several changes have been made to Florida universities’ tuition and fees: The Florida Prepaid Program rolled back the annual fee increases and will revert back to 2009’s methodology to determine future hikes. The 15% tuition differential increase was eliminated and replaced with a maximum 6% annual increase, but only for “pre-eminent state research universities.” Fees were also capped for out-of-state students.
TELEPHONE SOLICITATION Responding to technological advances, text messages from solicitors to residents listed on the “do not call” list will be prohibited.
ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES New legislation extends the current prohibitions related to tobacco products to the sale, possession or use of nicotine dispensing devices and nicotine products, including the popular electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), by any person under the age of 18.
SCHOOL VOUCHERS Controversial legislation was passed which expands the existing school voucher program and creates new scholarship opportunities for special-needs children. More students will be allowed to participate because partial scholarships are available for higher-income families.
SINGLE GENDER CLASSROOMS Parents interested in having their children learn in single gender classrooms can now do so. Legislation outlines new accountability and teacher training requirements for public school districts wishing to offer these classes.
STUDENT DATA PRIVACY Educational agencies or institutions are prohibited from collecting or retaining information regarding political affiliation, voting history, religious affiliation, or biometric information of students, parents or siblings. Facilities are not allowed to use social security numbers for identifying purposes.
CHILD BOOSTER SEATS As of January 2015, children five years old and younger will need to be secured in a booster seat, rather than a safety belt. The only exception is if the driver is not the child’s parent and is being transported gratuitously, in the case of an emergency, or when a medical condition prevents a booster seat’s use.
UNBORN CHILDREN CRIMINAL OFFENSES The term “unborn child” has replaced “viable fetus” in statute for criminal offenses. No longer will viability be considered when the State prosecutes criminals. Any fetus, regardless of the stage of pregnancy, may be regarded as a victim in criminal cases against a pregnant woman.
TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY Florida revised its laws this year prohibiting abortion in instances where it is determined that the fetus would be viable outside the womb. This language replaces the previous prohibition during the third trimester. A couple of exceptions, relating to the health of the mother, have been kept in place.
STAND YOUR GROUND EXTENSION Stand Your Ground protections will be extended to those who fire warning shots should they feel threatened. The law allows judges to deviate from 10-20-life sentencing when defendants have a good-faith belief they were in danger. There is some concern that the law’s wording may require a defendant to prove imminent danger, rather than demonstrate that force was necessary.
STUDENT DISCIPLINE/SECOND AMENDMENT Clarification has been provided to current law which now prohibits school districts from disciplining students for simulating a firearm or weapon while playing; wearing clothing or accessories depicting a firearm or weapon; or expressing an opinion regarding Second Amendment perceived rights. Discipline can be administered when such acts disrupt student learning.
CENTRAL FLORIDA EXPRESSWAY AUTHORITY The newly created Central Florida Expressway Authority replaces the Orlando Orange County Expressway Authority with a regional group composed of Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties. The new Board will have nine members, plus a non-voting Department of Transportation official. The Governor will appoint three of the nine members.
NEW SPECIALTY LICENSE PLATES Four new vanity license tags will become available in January for Fallen Law Enforcement Officers, the Florida Sheriffs Association, Keiser University and Moffitt Cancer Center.
BIKE TRAILS The Department of Transportation received funding to design and build new bicycle and pedestrian trails and to improve existing ones. The goal is to close current gaps between existing trails.
STATE POET LAUREATE A State Poet Laureate will be selected every four years by the Governor. The Florida Council on Arts and Culture within the Department of State will accept nominations, manage the process and promote literacy and poetry activities.