Flurry of New Laws Go Into Effect Today
Starting today, your kid will have to wear a helmet if he or she’s on the back of a horse, and it will be more expensive to drive recklessly and tougher to change your name to escape a nefarious past.
The trio of measures is among a flurry of new laws that take effect Thursday, the latest wave of legislation to come online following the 2009 Legislative session.
Faced with unmet medical needs and no way to pay, HB 481 tacks on an additional $65 civil fine for motorists who fail to stop for a school bus, drive recklessly or race on a highway. The proceeds will go to trauma centers, which receive the brunt of accident victims and are clamoring for funds to pay for the care of the uninsured.
The bill also requires first time offenders to take a driver improvement course. The court can waive community service work or driver improvement course attendance and institute a $10 per hour fine instead only to defendants who would be unduly burdened by taking time off their regular jobs.
The measure, sponsored by Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda, is expected to generate between $150,000 and $400,000 a year.
“Using traffic fines to help trauma centers makes sense because traffic accidents directly impact them,” Kreegel, an emergency room physician, said during debate on the issue earlier this year.
Other measures that take effect Oct. 1 include:
-SB 258: Requires people requesting a name change to first have fingerprints submitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the national FBI database. Currently, a federal criminal background search is not mandatory. Backers concede it will take more time to receive the results of the expanded check, but add the judge will have more accurate information about the petitioner’s criminal history before allowing them to change their name, possibly to escape their past misdeeds.
-HB 169: A bill that requires minors under 16 years old to wear helmets while horseback riding in certain circumstances. The bill creates fines up to $500 for trainers, instructors, supervisors and parents for failing to require industry-approved helmets for minors on horseback. The measure exempts riding at shows or events, on private land, and while engaged in agricultural pursuits.
-SB 2700: Establishes statewide rules for secondhand dealers and transactions involving gold or other precious metals. The measure pre-empts local ordinances in West Palm Beach that were more stringent than state standards established in 2008.
-HB 123: Makes it a second-degree felony to knowingly transport an illegal immigrant into Florida or receive financial gain for such a transfer. Additional penalties and fines will be tacked on to subsequent violations.
-SB 1658: Provide for mental health parity, dental services, and the reimbursement of federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics in the Florida Healthy Kids program as required by federal law.
-SB 858: Allows motorists applying for drivers’ licenses to donate $1 for heart disease research.