State legislators sent a number of bills that appropriated funds and set policy to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk for approval during the last legislative session in Tallahassee. Of the 269 bills signed by DeSantis, 145 set policy that took effect July 1. Several Keys-specific bills passing through the legislature allocated $51 million for various projects and set guidelines for vessel mooring, specifically in Key West. Other approved bills now change law on a number of issues throughout the state and the keys.
HB 921 – CAMPAIGN FINANCING
Passing through the House on March 10 and the Senate on March 4, the bill that became law prohibits contributions from foreign entities for federal and state candidate elections, including contributions to political party committees and contributions for campaign ads. Before the bill became law, Florida imposed no specific restrictions on foreign contributors. But there were limits on contributions to sponsors of initiative petitions and opposing committees during the period of petition circulation. The new state law emulates current federal regulations restricting contributions from foreign entities for elections.
SB 1110 – GREASE WASTE REMOVAL
Legislation approved by the House and Senate requires haulers to dispose of grease waste at a disposal facility and prevents them from returning grease waste or graywater to a grease interceptor or trap. Fats, oils and grease are usually found in kitchens as ingredients or by products of cooking. Improper disposal, usually down kitchen sinks, can cause environmental damage. In a sewer system, fats, oil and grease can solidify and accumulate around the insides of underground sewer pipes, which can lead to blockages, backups, pipe bursts and overflows. The bill requires that upon completion of grease waste disposal, the disposal facility operator and the hauler must have records verifying that fats, oils and greases were properly disposed of. Those who violated the law could face a $2,500 the first time and a $5,000 fine the second time.
HB 105 – SMOKING REGULATIONS
Counties and municipalities are allowed to restrict smoking, except for unfiltered cigars, within public beaches or parks. The Florida Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits people from smoking, vaping, or using tobacco at indoor workplaces. State law previously preempted the regulation of smoking and did not allow counties or municipalities to regulate smoking.
HB 1421—SCHOOL SAFETY
School district boards and charter school governing boards are required to enact plans that reunite families when public K-12 schools are closed or unexpectedly evacuated due to natural or manmade disasters. Law enforcement officers responsible for responding to schools in the event of an assailant emergency are required to participate in active assailant drills.
SB 1054 — FINANCIAL LITERACY IN SCHOOLS
Students entering their freshman year this coming school year will be required to take a personal financial literacy and management course in order to receive their high school diploma. Before the bill became law, school districts were required to offer a financial literacy course as an elective, but it wasn’t a graduation requirement. Financial literacy instruction includes earning income, buying goods and services, taxes, investing, debt management and credit scores.
HB 7065 — FATHERHOOD INITIATIVE
A priority of House Speaker Chris Sprowls, the new law provides all fathers with resources and inspiration to enhance their positive involvement in their children. Specifically, the bill aims to strengthen mentorship for at-risk boys and aids noncustodial parents struggling to pay child support. The law also requires Florida’s child welfare system and home visiting programs to increase engagement with and provision of services to fathers.
FLORIDA STATUTE 316.3045 — LOUD MUSIC IN VEHICLES
Effective July 1, drivers playing excessively loud music can be pulled over by law enforcement. Specifically, the law forbids a vehicle from playing music or other sounds that are “plainly audible at a distance of 25 feet or more from the vehicle.” Citations for violating the law could cost motorists between $114 and $116, depending on which Florida county issues the ticket.