With more than 200 bills officially becoming laws on July 1, it’s clear that Florida’s legislative sessions have been quite eventful this year. From immigration to gender identity, education to concealed carry and beyond, these changes touch various aspects of our lives. So, let’s take a closer look at some of the headline-making legislation and its implications.
Immigration Reform (SB 1718)
Florida’s approach to immigration is shifting with the implementation of SB 1718. Private companies with over 25 employees now need to use the E-Verify system to ensure that their workers are legally eligible for employment. Employers found to have undocumented immigrants working for them may face penalties, depending on the number of individuals involved. This move aims to curb illegal immigration, but there’s a flip side. Critics argue that this might negatively impact sectors like construction, agriculture, and hospitality – areas where undocumented workers often contribute significantly.
Hospitals that accept Medicaid also have a new requirement – they need to document patients’ immigration status on intake forms. While this has raised concerns that it might deter migrants from seeking medical care, the law specifies that a patient’s citizenship or legal status won’t affect their treatment, and no information will be shared with immigration authorities.
Changes in Education (HB 1069)
The education sector in Florida is a undergoing significant overhaul as well. HB 1069, dubbed the “Don’t Say Period” bill, has introduced changes related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex education. This bill defines “sex” as the classification based on biological traits and disallows teachers from asking students about their preferred pronouns. Additionally, it outlaws teaching the menstrual cycle before grade six, emphasizes abstinence, and delays discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity until grade eight. Critics view this as a step back in promoting comprehensive sex education.
Read More About Florida Law on Books
Concealed Carry Without Permits (HB 543)
The “Permitless Carry” bill (HB 543) has redefined concealed carry regulations in Florida. Floridians who legally own firearms are no longer required to obtain permits or undergo training to carry concealed weapons. While proponents argue that this law respects Second Amendment rights, opponents express concerns about potential safety risks and the need for proper firearm training. Background checks and training were previously mandatory for concealed carry, but this bill has changed the game.
Ensuring School Bus Safety (SB 766)
Ensuring the safety of our school children is a priority with SB 766. This law allows school districts to install cameras on the exteriors of buses to capture instances of drivers illegally passing buses displaying stop signs. With a minimum fine of $200 for violators, this measure aims to deter reckless driving near school buses. The bill stems from a survey that reported a concerning number of illegal passes on a single day. Advocates believe that implementing this law can save lives and prevent accidents involving school children.
Identity Politics and Education (SB 266)
The education sector is witnessing a shift in Florida’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives with SB 266. Colleges and universities are now prohibited from using state and federal funding for DEI efforts. This includes both hiring and recruitment activities. Moreover, the bill extends its influence to curriculum content. General education courses can’t teach that systemic racism, oppression, and privilege are deeply rooted in U.S. institutions. Identity politics and certain interpretations of history are also off-limits. The bill encourages a more traditional and Western-focused approach to education.
Protecting Students’ Data (SB 662)
Florida is stepping up to protect students’ personal data with SB 662. This law prevents educational technology companies from using students’ information for targeted advertising. EdTech data also cannot be sold to third-party entities. This measure aims to safeguard the privacy and security of students’ sensitive information while they engage with educational technology platforms. This step ensures that the data gathered from students’ interactions remains solely within the educational realm and can’t be exploited for commercial purposes.
Other Laws that Took Effect on July 1
As of July 1, a diverse range of different laws covering various aspects of life in Florida came into effect. Here is a brief overview of some of the other key laws set to take effect:
1. Transportation: New laws address airport transparency (HB 1123 / SB 1646), spaceflight entity liability (SB 1318 / HB 839), regional transit authority (HB 155 / SB 198), and regulations for unmanned aircraft systems (HB 645 / SB 908).
2. Housing: Changes include regulations related to affordable housing (SB 102), property disposal (SB 678 / HB 763), real estate appraisers’ actions (HB 213 / SB 398), and property owners’ rights (HB 437 / SB 1454).
3. Environment: The new laws cover concerns such as energy (SB 284 / HB 1025), environmental protection (HB 1379 / SB 1632), flooding vulnerability studies (HB 111 / SB 1170), and restoration initiatives (HB 641 / SB 546).
4. Public Safety: Changes address issues like amusement park ride safety (SB 902, SB 904 / HB 1241), school zone speed limits (HB 657 / SB 588), fire sprinkler system projects (HB 327 / SB 408), and natural emergencies (SB 250 / HB 7057).
5. Local Governments and Districts: Laws pertain to ethics requirements (HB 199 / SB 620), residency of elected officials (HB 411 / SB 444), comprehensive plans (HB 359 / SB 540), and interests of foreign countries (SB 264 / HB 1355).
6. Money, Business, and Technology: The new legislation encompasses topics like broadband internet (HB 1221 / SB 626), consumer protection (HB 1185 / SB 1398), licensing fee relief (HB 1091 / SB 7046), and taxation (HB 7063 / SB 7062).
As the legal landscape in Florida undergoes these transformations, it’s essential for us to stay informed about these changes and their potential impacts. Whether it’s immigration regulations, alterations in education, or adjustments to concealed carry laws, each of these laws has implications for our lives. It’s a dynamic time for our state, and understanding these changes help us to navigate them effectively.
Q : Are criminal justice reforms compromising public safety?
A : No, the reforms strike a balance between rehabilitation and maintaining public safety, aiming to provide second chances while upholding law and order.
Q : What changes will be introduced in the education sector?
A : Changes in education involve funding for charter schools, graduation requirements, sexuality instruction restrictions, and the implementation of year-round school pilot programs.
Q : What are the key focuses of the laws related to health and human services?
A : These laws address topics such as genetic counseling through telehealth, mental health treatment, protection against health care-based discrimination, and provisions for individuals with disabilities.