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Florida’s new laws ensure far-reaching changes for many state residents

Florida's new laws

Florida’s new laws

Florida’s new laws ensure far-reaching changes for many state residents

By K. Chandler

A plethora of new laws – 150 in total, ranging from government pay raises to revised eviction notices for renters, went into effect July 1, 2013 drawing sharp criticism from a number of consumer protection groups and human rights organizations.

A breakdown of the new laws signed into effect July 1st by Republican Governor Rick Scott includes:

Pay increases for State employees:

·  After seven years of struggling along with virtually no pay raises, State workers are slated to receive their first substantial pay increase since 2006, which will go into effect on Oct. 1st.

Education changes:

·  Pay raises of up to $3,500 will go to public school teachers who have the highest performance ratings, with $2,500 slated for other teachers. The funds, which total some $480 in teacher raises, were appropriated out of the state’s $74.1 billion state budget. All pay decisions, however, rest with the individual school districts.

·  Another law that passed will give more power to individual school districts to handle incidents of “cyber-bullying” with sanctions ranging from in-school detentions to expulsion.

·  High school graduation standards have also been revamped with students no longer being required to pass Algebra II as well as geometry and biology end of year exams to gain their graduation diploma. Also students would have the choice of enrolling in internships or pursuing a career education track to graduate.

·  Bright Futures scholar-ships will also be harder to obtain in the face of higher SAT and ACT scores that will be required of students now.

New tougher eviction laws:

· In accordance with the new tenant/landlord laws, landlords may now evict tenants within a matter of days even if they’ve partially paid their rent but have yet to produce the balance of their rent.

· The new law also eliminates the two standard eviction notices leveled against tenants who breach their leases twice in any given year for infractions such as keeping a pet not included on the lease; failure to clean up after one’s pet outside, or keeping up loud music, just to name a few.

· Per the new laws in place, condo renters will now be held liable for paying Homeowner Association (HA) fees if their landlord fails to comply with paying the fees, due to the fact the property is in foreclosure. Failure to pay the HA fees can result in the tenant being evicted by the Homeowners Association.

· Furthermore, weekends and holidays will no longer be off-limits to Sheriff’s deputies forcibly removing an evicted tenant’s furniture and belongings from the premises onto the curb.

Other miscellaneous laws going into effect July 1, 2013:

· The Timely Justice Act of 2013, which mandated more stringent timeframes for appeals in death penalty cases along with more limited post-conviction motions, will now become the rule of law in Florida. Many opponents decry the new rules as paving the way for speedier executions in the state while at the same time abrogating the due process rights of inmates.

· With respect to abortions, medical personnel will now be required by law to provide life-saving medical care for infants who are born following botched abortion attempts. Failure to provide medical care can result in stiff penalties on the part of abortion providers.

· Consumer protection laws designed to safeguard vehicle purchases have also been revised due to changes in the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. Consumer advocacy groups say the newly enacted revisions put confusing and complicated layers of red tape into effect along with more stringent legal notification regulations which will make it much more difficult for disgruntled car buyers to obtain redress if they purchase a vehicle that doesn’t operate properly.

· Another new law adopted by Florida legislators will block or prevent city and county governments from passing local ordinances mandating paid sick leave for workers by employers.

· Persons seeking consumer finance loans will also be impacted by a new law which effectively increases from $2,000 to $3,000 the loan amount finance companies are allowed to charge 30 percent interest on.

· Also drivers will no longer be permitted to drive 10 miles below the speed limit in the left hand lane.

· Another law would prevent the purchase of firearms by some individuals who voluntarily commit themselves into a mental health facility.

· New laws upholding red light camera violations will give violators 60 days rather than 30 days to pay up. Also it will now be easier to dispute a ticket in court. However a loss in court will result in that person paying the fine in addition to court costs likely to be in the range of $250.

· Texting while driving will also be prohibited effective Oct. 1st with a first time offense costing $30 and a 2nd offense within 5 years resulting in a $60 fine.

· State legislators, while not bringing the issue of medical marijuana to the floor, never-theless tightened regulations on bong and pipe sales by smoke shop owners, restricting sales of bongs and pipes for use only with tobacco products. Smoke shops must be able to prove that 75 percent of their business is related to cigarette, tobacco and cigar sales.

· At the same time, adults who are found to have given alcohol to minors on 2 or more occasions will now face first-degree misdemeanor charges after the 2nd offense.

· The statute of limitations was also eliminated in criminal/civil litigation pertaining to the sexual abuse of minor children 16 years of age and under. Previously there was a 3 year statute of limitation placed on cases involving juveniles between 12 and 16.

· New state laws put in place July 1, 2013 will also now prohibit people from putting For Sale signs on vehicles parked by the road, in open fields or other public places. From now on For Sale signs on cars will only be allowed on private property. Failure to comply will result in the car being towed, followed by civil fines.

· Also the Florida Dept. of Transportation (FL DOT) will now begin to issue permits to trucks weighing up to 88,000 lbs., a 10 percent increase over previous truck weights.

 

 

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    About The Author

    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

    Number of Entries : 3936

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