Florida

Beer growlers, ticket quotas, abortion waiting period among new Florida laws

FILE- In this Friday, March 29, 2013 file photo, patron Adam Rudell, of St. Petersburg, Fla., sits with two gallon-sized jugs of beer, known among beer enthusiasts as growlers, at the Swamp Head Brewery in Gainesville, Fla. Starting Wednesday, the state will no long collect sales tax on gun club memberships, people with 64-ounce beer containers known as “growlers” can get them filled at breweries, and governments in Florida will have to start looking to buy American-made U.S. flags.
FILE- In this Friday, March 29, 2013 file photo, patron Adam Rudell, of St. Petersburg, Fla., sits with two gallon-sized jugs of beer, known among beer enthusiasts as growlers, at the Swamp Head Brewery in Gainesville, Fla. Starting Wednesday, the state will no long collect sales tax on gun club memberships, people with 64-ounce beer containers known as “growlers” can get them filled at breweries, and governments in Florida will have to start looking to buy American-made U.S. flags. AP

The state's record-setting budget goes into effect on Wednesday, along with 130 other new laws that were produced by the Legislature this year in the regular and special sessions and signed by Gov. Rick Scott.

Starting Wednesday, the state will no long collect sales tax on gun club memberships, people with 64-ounce beer containers known as “growlers” can get them filled at breweries, and governments in Florida will have to start looking to buy American-made U.S. flags.

Lawmakers also decided that, as of Wednesday, the state’s decades-old ban on gay adoption will no longer be in statutes, children can secretly record sexual abusers and law enforcement agencies can’t require officers to issue any preset number of tickets.

At least one of the new laws has an uncertain future.

The requirement of a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions, approved largely along party lines, faces a legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union, which also wants the law put on hold while the lawsuit proceeds.

For the year, lawmakers sent 239 bills to Scott during the regular and special sessions. He vetoed seven and signed the rest.

A number of the new laws make technical changes to state statutes or have ties to the $78.2 billion spending plan.

Sixty-three of the laws approved by the Legislature went into effect immediately upon Scott's signature. Among those proposals, people without conceal-carry permits can now pocket their weapons when forced to leave home because of hurricanes and other disasters; current and past members of the U.S. armed forces, reserves or National Guard since Sept. 11, 2001, can ask to have their home and personal information exempt from state public record; rural letter carriers can drive without a seat belt while working their route; and there will be fewer tests given to public-school students.

Here are highlights of the laws taking effect July 1:

TAX CUTS

▪ There are tax cuts on the cost of gun club memberships, college textbooks, luxury boat repairs, certain agricultural supplies and services, school extracurricular fundraisers, aviation fuel at select flight-training academies, and on motor vehicles purchased overseas by internationally deployed service members from Florida.

For many Floridians, the most noticeable item will be a reduction in the communications-services tax on cellphone and cable-TV bills. The savings are projected at $20 a year for people paying $100 a month for the services.

Another notable feature is the 10-day sales-tax holiday starting Aug. 7 on clothing under $100, school supplies that cost $15 or less and the first $750 of personal computers purchased for noncommercial use.

ABORTION

▪ Requires a 24-hour waiting period before women can have abortions. Under the law, information about abortions must be provided in person to the woman at least 24 hours before a procedure is performed. There are exceptions for victims of rape, incest, domestic violence or human trafficking — but those victims can waive the 24-hour wait only if they can produce police reports, restraining orders, medical records or other documentation.

ADOPTION

▪ Provides $5,000 payments to government workers who adopt foster children, with the payments increasing to $10,000 for adoptions of children with special needs. The measure also repeals the state's decades-old ban on gay adoption.

PATRIOTISM

▪ Requires U.S. and Florida flags purchased by governments in Florida after Jan. 1, 2016, to be made from materials grown, produced and manufactured in the United States.

LAW ENFORCEMENT

▪ Makes clear local law-enforcement agencies cannot use ticket quotas. Also, the law requires individual local governments to submit reports to the Legislature if traffic-ticket revenues cover more than 33 percent of the costs of operating their police departments. The proposal is a reaction to the speed trap that was nestled along U.S. 301 in the small North Florida city of Waldo.

▪ Allows children under 18 to secretly record conversations related to sexual abuse or other violent acts. The proposal stemmed from a Florida Supreme Court decision last year that ordered a new trial for a Lee County man who had been sentenced to life in prison for sexually abusing his stepdaughter.

▪ Extends the statute of limitation on felony sexual battery offenses from four years to 10 years. The title of the law is tied to a sexual offense victim who reported the crime four years and 43 days after the crime, which meant that no charges could be brought against the offender.

DRONES

▪ Prohibits the use of aerial drones to capture images that could infringe on the privacy of property owners or occupants. The law allows people to initiate a civil action against a person, state agency or political subdivision that violates the prohibitions. However, the prohibition doesn't include agencies countering the risk of terrorist attacks, police who obtain search warrants that authorize the use of drones, property appraisers making tax assessments, and utilities maintaining their facilities.

ENTERTAINMENT

▪ Clears up confusion created by a 2013 law that shut down Internet cafes. This year's law is intended to make it clear that amusement games can continue operating at businesses such as Dave & Buster's and Chuck E. Cheese's.

ALCOHOL

▪ Ends the state's prohibition on brewers being able to fill 64-ounce beer containers known as “growlers” for off-site consumption. The law limits cup sizes to 3.5 ounces for beer tastings and caps the number of vendor licenses that can be issued to a brewer.

▪ Allows craft distillers to annually sell up to two factory-sealed bottles of each product directly to each customer visiting the property.

UTILITIES

▪ Limits future Public Service commissioners to three consecutive four-year terms. The law also requires utilities to notify customers of the best available rates and prevents electric utilities from charging higher rates through extensions of billing cycles — a provision directed at Duke Energy.

MEDICAL

▪ Allows terminally ill patients to access certain experimental drugs. Dubbed the "Right to Try Act," the law focuses on drugs that have been through what is known as "phase 1" of a clinical trial but have not been approved for general use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The law also provides liability protections to doctors and drug manufacturers.

INSURANCE

▪ Removes a restriction that prevents newly constructed or substantially improved structures seaward of the coastal construction control line or within the Coastal Barrier Resources System from qualifying for coverage from the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

▪ Repeals a law capping at four the number of vehicles that can be covered by a single family insurance policy.

▪ Provides flexible insurance options for flood coverage.

PUBLIC RECORDS

▪ Provides an exemption to email addresses that the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles collects related to driver's licenses and motor-vehicle records.

▪ Exempts taxpayers' email addresses obtained by tax collectors in the process of sending tax notices.

▪ Creates a public-records exemption for certain videos made by police body cameras. The exemption would apply to videos made on private property without the approval of a property owner or individual.

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