July 1st marks the day many bills signed into law by Governor Rick Scott go into effect. In addition to the 2018-19 budget and tax package, here is a sampling of new laws:
- EDUCATION ( HB 7055): Expands the use of voucher-like scholarships to send more public-school students to private schools; allows students who face bullying or harassment in public schools transfer to private schools; “hope scholarships” will be funded by motorists who voluntarily agree to contribute sales taxes they would normally pay on vehicle transactions to fund the scholarships; boosts the Gardiner scholarship program, which pays for services and private-school scholarships for students with disabilities.
- CHILD MARRIAGE (SB 140): Bans marriage for people under age 18, though an exception will be in place for 17-year-olds who have written consent from their parents or guardians. Also, the 17-year-olds will not be able to marry people who are more than two years older than them.
- OPIOIDS (HB 21): This bill is aimed at preventing patients from getting addicted to prescription painkillers. It places limits on prescriptions that doctors can write for treatment of acute pain, excluding cancer patients, the terminally ill, palliative care patients and those suffering from major trauma; and it requires physicians or their staff members to check with a statewide database before prescribing or dispensing controlled substances.
- SLAVERY MEMORIAL (HB 67): Requires the Department of Management Services to develop a plan for building a memorial on the Capitol grounds honoring the innumerable slaves in Florida’s history.
- BETHUNE STATUE (SB 472): A statue of civil-rights leader and educator Mary McLeod Bethune, the founder of what became Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, will be placed in the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. Bethune will replace a statue of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith.
- DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME (SB 1013) : Still requiring congressional approval, it seeks to put Florida on year-round daylight-saving time.
- DIRECT PRIMARY CARE AGREEMENTS (HB 7): amends the Florida Insurance Code to eliminate third party payers from the primary care provider-patient relationship and its related administrative costs.
- CORAL REEFS (HB 53): Establishes the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Ecosystem Conservation Area.
- STATE SYMBOLS (HB155): Stops the scheduled repeal of the loggerhead turtle as the official state saltwater reptile and the Florida cracker horse as the official state horse; designates the Florida cracker cattle as the official state heritage cattle breed.