Crist Signs Sex Offender Bill and Sales Tax Holiday
Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law on Wednesday legislation that included a ban on sexual offenders from areas frequented by children and a back-to-school sales tax holiday.
“Our children are our most precious resource and we must continue to work together and seek ways to continue to ensure their safety,” Crist said before signing the measure (HB 119) that prohibits those classified as sex offenders in most cases from loitering within 300 feet of any of a specified set of places where children congregate, such as a playground or bus stop. “Sexual offenders and predators have no right to prey on our children and this law is another step towards securing safer neighborhoods, schools and communities for them.”
Florida has gotten national media attention over its sex offender laws after residency restrictions in the Miami area became so stringent that a colony of homeless sex offenders arose underneath a bridge connecting Miami to Miami Beach.
Earlier versions of the legislative measure included a 1,000 foot statewide residency requirement, a provision that drew concerns from Miami-Dade officials and threatened to ultimately torpedo the bill. The final measure allows local government to keep stricter residency requirements than the state has for sex offenders, but adds the uniform statewide “buffer zone” around children, limiting where they can go, not just where they can live.
The governor also signed HB 483, which puts in place this year’s sales tax holiday from Aug. 13 through Aug. 15, 2010, on school supplies, books, clothing, and footwear. During the sales tax holiday, shoppers will not have to pay sales tax on certain clothing items under $50 as well as school supplies that cost $10 or less.
Officials estimate the tax holiday will save families about $26 million.
“This tax break will enable Florida families to buy school supplies and clothing for the school year without the additional cost burden of state and local taxes,” said Florida Retail Federation lobbyist Sally West. “The tax holiday will also provide a much needed boost to Florida's economy.