New Florida laws taking effect July 1 include beach access, child marriage, opioids

Northwest Florida

More than 100 bills Gov. Rick Scott signed into law from the 2018 legislative session will take effect Monday, July 1.

Here’s a look at some of the new laws:

HB 21 Opioid Limits 

More than 15 million prescriptions for opioids were given to Florida patients between 2016 and 2017. 
The Centers for Disease Control has found a direct correlation between an opioid prescription being written for a lengthy period and the chances someone will become addicted. 

A new law taking effect on July 1 will limit doctors to prescribing a three-day supply, with the option of up to seven days, with an exception for patients with cancer and other terminal illnesses.

The new law also requires doctors to now check each patients prescription history in the Prescription Drug Monitoring Database before writing a script, which may take some getting used to for medical professionals.

The law also expands the prescription data base across state lines to prevent doctor shopping.
Getting up to speed will be important, because the new law also raises the criminal penalty for irresponsibly prescribing opioids, increasing potential prison time from five to 15 years.

SB 140 Child Marriage

It bars those under the age of 18 from being married in Florida to prevent child marriage. It includes narrow exceptions for 17-year-olds whose parents or guardians offer written consent and whose partners are no more than two years older. In the past, minors ages 16 and 17 had been able to get marriage licenses with parental consent, and judges have had the discretion to issue licenses to younger minors if they have children or if pregnancies are involved.

HB 7055 Education

An education law creates a voucher-like scholarship for students bullied in public school to help pay for private school tuition, as well as a separate scholarship to assist students with disabilities. It allows for millions collected by certain taxes to fund those scholarships and mandates teachers’ unions have half of all eligible members pay dues. 

HB 1013 Daylight Saving Time

State lawmakers and Gov. Scott moved the state to observe Daylight Saving Time for the entire year. The change, promoted to help Florida tourism, still needs congressional approval.

HB 631 Restricting public beach access

Many Florida beachfront homes own the sand down to the average high-water line. Starting Sunday, private property owners have the choice of whether they want to restrict the public from using the portion of beach on their property. That means the dry sand could be private, while the wet sand will remain public. The new law is the first of its kind in the country and goes against Florida’s long-standing “customary use” policy, which states that beaches belong to the public.

“This law does not ‘ban’ or privatize any beach in Florida. If a local government wants to expand the public beach area, this bill simply outlines the legal process to accomplish that,” said John Tupps, Gov. Scott’s Communications Director. 

Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS Public Safety Act

The law requires sworn law enforcement officers to be stationed in every school in the state. The law also requires active shooter training in schools once a semester. School boards must establish threat assessment teams that will help assess and intervene with people whose behavior may pose a threat to the safety of the school.

HB 29 Military and Veterans Affairs

Military and Veterans Affairs: Citing this act as the “Don Hahnfeldt Veteran and Military Family Opportunity Act”; revising licensure eligibility requirements; requiring the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to waive certain fees; authorizing the licensing authority to recognize certain military-issued credentials for purposes of licensure; designating March 25 of each year as “Medal of Honor Day”; requiring the State Board of Education to issue a temporary certificate in
educational leadership to certain persons, etc.

HB 5001 State Budget

Lawmakers passed an $88.7 billion budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. The spending plan increases public-school funding by $101.50 per student.

HB 7087 Tax Package

A $170 million tax-cut package provides relief for farmers and property owners impacted by Hurricane Irma, provides a sales-tax “holiday” in August for back-to-school shoppers and retroactively covers a disaster-preparedness tax “holiday” in early June that coincided with the start of hurricane season. The package also includes reducing a commercial lease tax from 5.8 percent to 5.7 percent, though that cut will begin Jan. 1.

HB 155 State Symbols

It repeals state saltwater reptile and state horse designations; designates Florida Cracker Cattle as official state heritage cattle breed.

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