SPORTING EVENTS ADMISSION TAX The Legislature extended the tax exemption on admission tickets to include an all-star game for Major League Soccer.
SPORTS FACILITIES INCENTIVES Sports facilities annual sales tax rebates have been expanded. New facilities may receive annual funding of $1 million to $3 million depending on the proposed cost of the facility. The bill also increased the incentives to retain baseball teams’ spring training season. New soccer franchises in Orlando and Miami are expected to benefit from this program.
WATER SPORTS REQUIREMENTS Reacting to recent serious incidents, a new law prohibits moored ballooning, kite boarding and kite surfing within certain distances of airports. Parasailing vendors also must follow new regulations regarding minimum insurance coverage, maintain a weather log, have a license issued by the United States Coast Guard, and operate only under certain weather conditions.
BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR COACHES All volunteer youth coaches, assistants, and referees in leagues must have a Level 1 background check performed by sports governing groups before participating in activities. Teams will not be allowed to independently conduct background checks on their coaches.
VACATION RENTALS Local laws, ordinances or regulations that control the duration or frequency of vacation rentals are prohibited. It repeals current law that restrict the use of vacation rentals or that regulate them based solely on their classification, use or occupancy.
WARRANTY AGREEMENTS/CONTRACTS Florida has made it legal for extended automobile warranties, home warranties and other service agreements to be provided in an electronic format. Written copies will be available upon request of consumers.
DRUG TRAFFICKING SENTENCES The threshold for being charged with drug trafficking has increased. An individual carrying 7 grams of oxycodone and/or 14 grams of hydrocodone will receive a prison sentence based upon the weight of drugs confiscated. Concerned with prison overcrowding, prison sentences for trafficking have been reduced and will be scaled based upon the weight of drugs possessed.
SYNTHETIC DRUGS Governor Scott signed into law House Bill 697, which adds six new synthetic drugs to the list of criminally banned substances. The synthetics targeted are phenethylamines, which are commonly referred to as salts.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING Florida, with the third highest rate of human trafficking in the nation, has continued with its multi-year effort against these crimes. The new laws increase penalties when children are the victims; require specialized training for investigators; create penalties for “branding’ of victims; eliminate the statute of limitations; and prohibit minors from working in adult theaters
LEAVING ACCIDENT SCENES Laws were strengthened regarding drivers leaving the scene of an accident that causes bodily harm or death. In the case of injury, the charge has been increased to a second degree felony. In the instances where a death occurs, there will be a mandatory four year sentence in addition to other possible charges.
NURSING HOMES The moratorium on new nursing home facilities has been removed and the methodology to determine the need for new facilities and their location has been revised. The total number of new nursing home beds has been capped at 3,750 for the period of July, 2014 through June, 2017.
FOREIGN LAW IN FAMILY COURTS This legislation codifies existing case law from appellate court and Florida Supreme Court opinions in family law and child custody matters. The application of laws of foreign nations is now prohibited by statute, in spite of case law already establishing the precedent.
STATE OF FLORIDA INVESTMENTS The Protecting Florida’s Investments Act has been modified to allow the State to invest in exchange-traded funds (ETF’s) which do business in either Iran or Sudan. Previously, any type of investment involving those countries was prohibited. Also, up to 50% of State Board of Administration funds may be invested in foreign corporate securities beginning in July, 2014.
GOVERNMENT ETHICS Ethics legislation was enacted this past session with many new provisions: All elected municipal officers must undergo four hours of ethics training; the financial disclosure statutes were revised giving the Commission on Ethics additional powers; lobbyist regulations for the State’s water management districts were established; and new standards of conduct, anti-nepotism and voting conflicts were implemented for the Clerk of Courts Operations Corporation, Enterprise Florida and the Florida Development Finance Corporation.
LEGISLATOR RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS The Senate and House of Representatives jointly agreed to a new rule regarding the establishment of residency for state legislators. The rule enhances criteria used to determine legal residency and requires lawmakers to provide affirmation of their residence.