TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The new year will bring a handful of new laws to the Sunshine State. They include higher penalties for not stopping for school buses, an official end to betting on greyhound races and a slightly higher minimum wage.
Lawmakers passed, and the governor signed, more than 200 bills in the last legislative session, which ended in March. Most of those new laws then went into place on either the first day of July or October.
Below are some of the remaining few laws starting on either Dec. 31 or Jan. 1.
SCHOOL BUS SAFETY: HB 37
Unanimously approved by both House and Senate lawmakers last session, this bill will increase fines for drivers who illegally pass buses loading and unloading children. Drivers who fail to stop face a $200 minimum fine, up from $100. The minimum for illegally passing a bus on the side children enter and exit will now be $400, doubling the current $200 violation.
VOTING SYSTEMS: CS/HB 1005
Another bill with unanimous approval last session, HB 1005, allows supervisors of elections and county canvassing boards to use automated tabulating equipment not part of the voting system to conduct both machine and manual recounts.
The policy will also require accuracy testing of voting systems at least 25 days before the start of early voting in the state. This is a correction to the current law in which systems are tested after canvassing of vote-by-mail ballots has started in certain instances.
INSURANCE CLAIMS DATA: CS/SB 292
SB 292 requires an insurance carrier to provide the insured with a "loss run" statement within 15 days after receiving a request. The statements are a report generated by an insurance carrier showing the claims history of an insured.
The new policy also forbids carriers from charging a fee for preparing or providing the reports.
AMENDMENT 12: HB 7009
This is what’s known as an implementation bill, a piece of legislation that puts an approved constitutional amendment into action. HB 7009, set to begin Dec. 31, lays the legal foundation for Amendment 12. Floridians overwhelmingly approved the ballot initiative in 2018 to prevent public employees and public officials from "abusing their positions in order to obtain a 'disproportionate benefit' for themselves or other specified persons or entities."
Further action from lawmakers will be needed to implement other provisions of the amendment going into effect at the end of 2022. That includes provisions prohibiting public officials from lobbying for compensation during their term in office and for six years after leaving.
Dec. 31 will be the last day to bet on live greyhound or other dog racing in the state of Florida. Voters approved Amendment 13 in 2018 with nearly 70% of the vote.
The amendment added the following language to the state’s constitution:
"After Dec. 31, 2020, a person authorized to conduct gaming or pari-mutuel operations may not race greyhounds or any member of the Canis Familiaris subspecies in connection with any wager for money or any other thing of value in this state, and persons in this state may not wager money or any other thing of value on the outcome of a live dog race occurring in this state.”
The state's minimum wage increases nine cents on Jan. 1 to $8.65. Workers earning tips will receive at least $5.63 an hour. The rates are tethered to a 2004 constitutional amendment that requires the state to increase pay to help offset cost-of-living expenses.
Floridians are expected to see a much larger minimum wage bump in September to $10 an hour after voters approved Amendment 2 in November. Rates are set to incrementally increase each year until reaching $15 in 2026. In subsequent years, the minimum wage will be adjusted annually based on increases to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).