From tougher child porn penalties to aid for the homeless, new laws are on the way in Florida.

A new law passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott prohibits future construction projects built near environmentally sensitive areas from getting insurance from the state-run Citizens Property Insurance.

A new law passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott prohibits future construction projects built near environmentally sensitive areas from getting insurance from the state-run Citizens Property Insurance.

TALLAHASSEE — If you’re disgusted by child pornography, think more should be done for the homeless, and worry about bullying, chances are you’re going to be pleased with the actions of the state Legislature in this past legislative session.
In addition to adopting a budget for the next fiscal year, lawmakers also passed a slew of new measures, and earlier today, Gov. Rick Scott signed 36 of those bills into law.
The laws will impact a wide variety of Floridians, from homeowners who get their property insurance from the state to the homeless.
Among the many bills passed and signed is one that allows Florida residents who are getting or renewing their motor vehicle registration or driver license to make a voluntary contribution of $1 as they’re doing it. That money would be given to agencies that assist the homeless.
It will now be a third-degree felony for an adult to knowingly distribute any material considered “harmful” to a minor, or post similar materials on public and private school property.
A separate bill enhances criminal penalties against convicted gang members who go into school safety zones. There are also additional criminal penalties being applied to any person who tries to recruit children under age 13 into a gang.
The new laws also take aim at bullying, by expanding the legal definition to include cyberbullying, or harassment and intimidation done through emails or social media sites like Facebook. There are also new prohibitions directed at any technology-related bullying activities that could be viewed as negatively affecting a student’s ability to get an education.
One of the most significant bills aims to reforming Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, also known as the state’s public “insurer of last resort.”
Citizens was created to provide state-funded insurance coverage to Florida homeowners who could not purchase insurance on the private market.
Following the devastating hurricane season of 2004 — when three major storms hit the state in August and September that year, causing billions in damage — Citizens was forced to raise rates to cover all the claims it needed to pay out.
In 2009, Gov. Charlie Crist tried to make the state-run insurer a genuine competitor with the private market by offering lower premiums than private firms have. As a result, Citizens has become the largest insurer in the state, with 1.1 million policies.
State lawmakers, though, became worried that if a major hurricane struck and Citizens Property couldn’t afford to cover all the property damage claims, all Florida taxpayers would be required to cover what Citizens couldn’t afford.
That’s what happened in the busy and destructive storm seasons of 2004 and 2005, when Citizens was unable to cover all its claims and all Florida homeowners had to pay a surcharge on their insurance bills to keep Citizens afloat.
The revision prohibits new construction projects started after July 1, 2014 from obtaining Citizens coverage if the projects are being built in high-risk, environmentally sensitive coastal areas.
In signing the bill, Gov. Scott called it a “commonsense step” that “eliminates public insurance subsidies for new coastal constructions with a high risk of storm losses.”
It would also protect environmentally sensitive areas from further development, the governor added.
The changes would also require those working at Citizens to limit how they bill the state for office and business expenses.
“We called for Citizens to make immediate changes to their travel guidelines to bring them in line with official state travel restrictions, which do not reimburse for the purchase of alcohol,” Scott said. “We called on them to further change their travel policy so it prohibited any international travel and permitted only essential employees to attend board meetings. We called on them to give back the outrageous pay raises they doled out to their executives last year.”
Other bills signed into law today would:
* exempt dyed diesel fuel used for commercial fishing and aquaculture purposes from the Florida sales and use tax;
* create a Freemasonry specialty license plate that costs $25, with that money being used to benefit the Masonic Home Endowment Fund, Inc., a charitable fund that assists children;
* prohibit electronic benefits transfer EBT nutritional assistance cards from being used at gambling or adult entertainment clubs, pari-mutuel or slot machine facilities, or casinos.

Contact us at FreelineOrlando@gmail.com.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply