From Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson

The Florida Legislature recently concluded its Legislative Session and as a result, several hundred bills have gone to the Governor’s desk for his approval or veto.  These bills range in issue from boat safety to ridesharing to tax cuts.  As such, we would like to provide a brief synopsis on some of the bills that became effective July 1, 2017 that affect you and your family.

Boating Safety: Governor Scott signed House Bill 711, referred to as the boating safety bill, into law in May. The bill reduces boat registration fees for recreational boat users who own a device that detects their location, commonly known as locator beacons. This bill was filed to encourage safety measures after the tragedy that occurred in July 2015, when two teenage boys from Tequesta went missing.

Florida Families: House Bill 101, called the Grieving Families Act, offers closure to families who have lost a child by allowing the Florida Department of Health to issue a type of birth certificate for pregnancies that result in miscarriages called certificates of nonviable birth. The law requires the mother to be at least 9 weeks pregnant at the time of a miscarriage to receive a certificate.

Tax Cuts: House Bill 7109 offers a variety of tax cuts in several areas including: Back-To-School Sales Holiday, hurricane preparedness, business and commercial leases and assisted living facilities. The bill creates a three-day holiday in August for tax-free school-related supplies and items; creates a three-day holiday in June for tax-free supplies to prepare for hurricane season; reduces the tax on rental leases for businesses; eliminates taxes for assisted living facilities and provides a 50% discount on property taxes for low-income, multifamily housing projects. In total, the bill provides for $180 million in tax cuts.

Pollution: Senate Bill 1018 creates the Public Notice of Pollution Act, which requires an owner or operator of an installation or facility to report information about the discovery of pollution to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) within 24 hours after the discovery. The Act was created to prevent incidents like the Mulberry sinkhole and sewage discharges that impacted the Bay Area last year.

Education: House Bill 7069 was a large education package that among many other things eliminates an end of course assessment requirement, expands the Florida Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program, expands student eligibility for the Gardiner Scholarship, and requires 100 minutes of recess for elementary students.

Uber/Lyft: House Bill 221 sets statewide uniform rules and standards for ridesharing companies operating in Florida. This law is expected to not only help these companies grow in the State of Florida but also better ensure the safety of passengers. Specifically, these goals will be accomplished by requiring certain insurance coverage related to operating a car used for ridesharing and stricter rules for background checks of drivers through these uniform rules.

School Bus Safety: House Bill 1239, named the Cameron Mayhew Act, after a student of the same name who was tragically killed by a car while walking to his stopped school bus. The bill imposes harsher penalties of a $1,500 fine and at least a year of a driver license suspension for drivers who drive past stopped school buses.

For more information on these and other bills that went through the legislative process, please visit: http://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/BillSummaries/2017/.

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