TALLAHASSEE -- The state’s $74.1 billion budget, which will fund 114,481 positions, 3,955 more than in the current fiscal year, kicks in on Monday.
The fiscal package also includes the first raise those workers will see in seven years.
At the same time, nearly 200 new laws approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott hit the books. More than 50 bills still await action by Scott.
The bills already signed into law range from a limit on the law enforcement use of drones, to a bill spelling out how money is raised to build nuclear power plants to new rules for Citizens Property Insurance Corp. There also will be, come Monday, a crackdown on “cyberbullying,” conversion of low-speed vehicles into golf carts and a prohibition on the sale of bongs. A law against texting while driving (SB 52) doesn’t take effect until Oct. 1, while changes to campaign fundraising (HB 7013) go into place next year. Here are highlights of some bills taking effect Monday:
HB 21: Requires the Department of Education to conduct background screening for non-instructional contractors who will be on school grounds, and creates a statewide identification badge for the contractors.
HB 609: Cracks down on cyberbullying in public schools by expanding what school districts are allowed to punish at school and when children are not at school — if the non-school bullying affects education.
HB 801: Changes guidance counselors to certified school counselors.
SB 1664: Requires that at least 50 percent of a classroom teacher or school administrator’s performance evaluation be based on the growth or achievement of the students under their charge. The other half would be based on district-determined plans. Teachers with less than three years’ experience would only be judged on 40 percent of their students’ performance.
HB 55: Could help head off lawsuits alleging that auto dealers have engaged in deceptive and unfair practices by requiring customers to provide a demand letter before they can sue auto dealers. If dealers pay the claims and related surcharges within 30 days, they could not be sued.
SB 62: Allows street-legal, “low-speed vehicles” to be reclassified as golf carts, a move to reduce registration and insurance costs.
HB 7125: An omnibus transportation package that: prevents ticketing motorists as long as vehicles come to a stop, even after crossing the stop line, before making legal right turns on red; creates specialty license plates for the American Legion, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Lauren’s Kids, a program aimed at preventing sexual abuse of children; and bars left-lane drivers from going more than 10 mph below the speed limit if they know they are being overtaken from behind by faster-moving vehicles.
HB 157: Allows insurers to electronically transmit insurance policies to the insured.
HB 223: Lets property and casualty insurance policies and endorsements be made available on an insurer’s Internet website rather than being mailed, if agreed to by the customer.
SB 468: Exempts medical malpractice insurance from the state rate filing and approval process for some facilities and practitioners and continues the exemption of medical malpractice insurance from the CAT Fund assessment program.