During the 2019 Legislative Session, the Florida Legislature reviewed more than 3,500 proposed bills. Of those, nearly 200 made it through to the Governor DeSantis’ desk. Out of the 200, nearly 20 bills took effect on July 1.
Among them was the $90.98 billion spending bill for the fiscal year. Included in the budget is money for the Everglades and water projects. Student funding was boosted to $242 per student, and there was money for post Hurricane Michael.
Here is a look at some of the other bills, in no particular order, that took effect on July 1.
(HB 107) Texting While Driving is now a primary offense which means that if the police see you tapping on your phone, they can pull you over without another reason. The law will be fazed in with warnings at first and then tickets will be issued beginning on January 1, 2020.
(SB 190) Bright Futures requirements are now more stringent. In order to receive the ‘Academic’ scholarship, which covers tuition and fees at state colleges and universities, a student must achieve a 1330 on the SAT rather than 1290. To receive the ‘Medallion’ scholarship, which covers 75 percent of costs, you must have closer to a 1200 rather than 1170.
(HB 19) Floridians can now purchase U.S. FDA approved drugs at a lower price from Canada and other countries.
(SB 1020) This bill creates a Hemp Program which provides for a regulatory framework that includes requiring licenses for people and businesses who want to grow hemp.
(SB 426) Firefighters with a diagnosis of cancer will be eligible for additional benefits.
(SB 7098) This bill carries out a constitutional amendment setting death benefits for law enforcement officials who are killed on duty.
(SB 168) This highly controversial bill allows local law enforcement agencies to “use their best efforts to support the enforcement of federal immigration law.”
(SB 7012) This law carries out the constitutional amendment wherein voters voted to ban vaping and the use of electronic cigarettes indoors.
(SB 7070) This bill provides that the standards for testing requirements for certifying teachers will be lowered.
(HB 771) This bill prohibits the local government from adopting or enforcing ordinances relating to single-use plastic straws.
(SB 707) This is an education bill that includes a new school voucher program that allows the state to pay for as many as 18,000 students to attend private school.
(SB 1552) This bill established Florida Red Tide Mitigation and a Technical Development Initiative.
(SB 7066) With voters voting overwhelmingly to pass Amendment 4, which proposed to restore the voting rights to people who had completed the terms of their sentences (except for sexual assault and murder), the legislature passed a measure requiring felons to pay restitution, fines and fees before they can register to vote.
Other bills included SB 7068, which builds and expands toll roads. This was a top priority of Senate President, Bill Galvano. The bill will expand the Suncoast Parkway from Tampa Bay to the Georgia border, expand the Florida Turnpike west to connect with the Suncoast Parkway and include a toll road from Polk County to Collier County.
Representative Mike Beltran of Lithia was instrumental in passing of SB 292 and HB 843. The first requires school districts to allow authorized students to wear military dress uniforms at high school graduation. The latter increases oversight of pediatric heart surgeries by allowing team doctors to make unannounced visits to struggling programs and review death records.
Representative Beltran said of HB 843, “My legislation will provide the necessary oversight to allow a Pediatric Cardiac Technical Advisory Panel to appoint physician experts to visit Florida’s 10 pediatric heart surgery programs.”
Representative Beltran added, “We worked with all stakeholders to devise a system of regulation that will reduce preventable deaths while allowing doctors and facilities to perform necessary lifesaving procedures. This legislation saves lives.”