“Stand Your Ground” Gone? Not Yet – 2013 Legislative Update

John Compton Business & Corporate Law

While the controversy over Florida’s “stand your ground” law continues to swirl, there were almost 200 new laws that took effect July 1, 2013.  Undoubtedly, none of these new laws have grabbed the attention that “stand your ground” has (except for maybe the law that allegedly outlawed computers and smart phones in Florida), there are a few that are worth noting as follows:

SB 284: Allows private schools to be notified by first responders about emergencies and makes sure public schools spell out which agencies are supposed to contact them.

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.

SB 1664: Requires that at least 50 percent of a classroom teacher’s 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 year’s experience would only be judged on 40 percent of their students’ performance.

HB 655: Aimed at Orange County where a 2014 referendum was planned, the law locks local governments from requiring employers to offer paid sick leave to workers. The law also creates an Employer-Sponsored Benefits Study Task Force, which is directed to analyze employment benefits.

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 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.

SB 468: Exempts medical malpractice insurance from the state rate filing and approval process for some facilities and practitioners and continues the exemption of med mal insurance from the CAT Fund assessment program.

SB 1770: The Citizens Property Insurance Corp. overhaul, less imposing than initially proposed, still prevents coverage for new homes in high-risk, environmentally sensitive coastal areas, creates an internal inspector general position, and a clearinghouse intended to shift at least 200,000 policies into the private market.

SB 336: Allows tourist development tax dollars to be used for the benefit of certain not-for-profit run museums or aquariums.

SB 674: Requires animal shelters and animal control agencies keep more records on euthanasia and make them available to the public.

SB 948: Expands the role of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services with local utilities in water supply planning.

HB 49: The “bong ban” prohibits the sale of metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic, or ceramic smoking pipes, chillums or bongs.

SB 92: Restricts the use of unmanned aerial drones by law enforcement unless a judge issues a warrant, there is a “high risk of terrorist attack” or officials fear someone is in imminent danger.

HB 95: Declares that money given to charities by Ponzi schemers wouldn’t have to be later returned to victimized investors if it was accepted in good faith.

HB 1355: Blocks gun sales to some people who voluntarily admit themselves for mental-health treatment.

SB 1844: Intended to bolster the Florida Health Choices program, a long-planned online health marketplace, by increasing funding and eligibility standards.

HB 77: The “Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act” allows a landlord to accept partial rent without waiving the right to evict, clarifies that weekends and holidays do not stay a sheriff’s 24-hour eviction notice, and prohibits landlords from retaliating against a tenant who lawfully pays a landlord’s association dues or complains of a fair housing violation.

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John Compton