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Big budget and many other new Florida laws set to take effect July 1

Upcoming $101.5 billion state budget is largest in state history
Posted at 8:57 AM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 08:57:47-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A bunch of Florida's newest laws takes effect on Thursday. That includes the biggest budget in history, a trans-athlete sports ban, and drinks to go.

Here is a list of some of the biggest changes coming July 1.

BUDGET (SB 2500) - SIGNED

Florida's fiscal year 2021-2022 budget weighs in at $101.5 billion, the largest in state history. It's bolstered by federal dollars and includes $22.8 billion for K-12 education, $625 million for Everglades restoration and water projects like combating sea-level rise, bonuses for teachers and first responders, plus places $9.5 billion in reserves.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE (SB 1890) - SIGNED

The "anti-John Morgan" bill -- now law -- will limit the amount a person can give to committees working to place constitutional amendments on Florida ballots. SB 1890 got its nickname from prominent Orlando attorney John Morgan who has helped finance amendments raising the state's minimum wage and legalizing medical marijuana. The new law caps individual committee contributions at $3,000.

TAXATION (SB 7061) - SIGNED

Much of this year's tax cut package takes effect July 1. Lawmakers say it will provide $168 million in taxpayer savings through a variety of sales tax holidays and other provisions. "Freedom Week" begins July 1 and runs until July 7, providing tax savings on outdoor recreation purchases and tickets to events, museums and more. The "Back-to-School Tax Holiday" also returns and runs from July 31 until August 9.

SCHOOL CHOICE (HB 7045) - SIGNED

Lawmakers expanded Florida's school voucher program in 2021. One of the new law’s biggest provisions is increasing family income caps for kids to qualify. The policy also removes rules requiring students to be previously enrolled in public schools to participate and eliminates current waitlists for those eligible.

M-CORES REPEAL (SB 100) - SIGNED

Lawmakers repealed the controversial M-CORES project this year. It would have built and expanded toll roads across the state. SB 100 scraps the idea almost entirely and instructs M-CORES funding to be used for other transportation projects. That includes plans to extend Florida's Turnpike.

PROPERTY INSURANCE (SB 76) - SIGNED

The new law aims to reduce overall homeowner insurance rates through several provisions. It limits attorney fees in lawsuits against insurers, cuts the time to file claims from three to two years, and prevents contractors from soliciting homeowners to file roof repair claims. It also allows Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, which is connected to the state, to raise its rates.

DRINKS TO GO (SB 148) - SIGNED

The new law allows restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages with pickup or delivery of meals. DeSantis allowed the concept during the pandemic to offset damage from the economic shutdown. It will now be permanently codified with SB 148.

ABANDONED CEMETERIES (HB 37) - SIGNED

Creates a 10-member task force under the Department of State to study the "extent that unmarked or abandoned African-American cemeteries and burial grounds exist throughout the state." The task force will also "develop and recommend strategies for identifying and recording cemeteries and burial grounds…"

TRANS ATHLETES (SB 1028) - SIGNED

The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act is likely the most controversial portion of SB 1028. It bans transgender females from playing on women's high school and college sports teams. Gender will be based on a student's biological sex listed on the student's birth certificate, filed at or near the time of the student's birth.

ONLINE SALES TAX (SB 50) - SIGNED

Florida is expected to nab an extra $1 billion in state revenue a year as SB 50 takes effect. It requires online retailers out of state to collect sales tax from Floridians. Funds will then be used to refill the state's unemployment insurance coffers which were drained by the pandemic.

SOCIAL MEDIA (SB 7072) - SIGNED

If federal court challenges are unsuccessful, the new "de-platforming law" aims to forbid social media companies from suspending the accounts of political candidates. Violators could face daily fines of $250,000 for statewide candidates, $25,000 daily for others. Companies that own a theme park are exempted.

MOMENTS OF SILENCE (HB 529) - SIGNED

Taking effect before the next school year, HB 529 requires public schools to set aside between one and two minutes for a moment of silent reflection at the start of each day of class. Teachers are forbidden from suggesting the nature of that reflection. The law also requires teachers to encourage parents to discuss moments of silence with children.

COLLEGE SURVEYS (HB 233) - SIGNED

Each year, Florida colleges and universities will be required to assess their "intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity" using a survey adopted by the State Board of Education and Board of Governors. The first results will be published on Sept. 1, 2022. The state said participation for students and educators will be voluntary and aim to measure one's ability to freely express themselves.

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT (SB 2006) - SIGNED

Following local COVID-19 ordinances and lockdowns, the governor pushed lawmakers to approve SB 2006. It grants his office the ability to countermand local orders during health crises. It also prevents businesses, governments and schools in the state from requiring vaccine passports.

FOREIGN INFLUENCE (HB 7017) - SIGNED

The new law is an attempt to crack down on the influence of foreign governments like China. It requires higher education institutions to disclose foreign gifts of $50,000 or more and requires rigorous screening of foreign researchers. Another bill, HB 1523, taking effect in October targets corporate espionage and upgrades penalties for the theft of intellectual property.

FARMING (SB 88) - SIGNED

Florida's Right to Farm Act aims to reduce "nuisance" lawsuits by creating new stronger liability protection for farm operations that comply with best practices. "Nuisance" is defined in the law as "any interference with the reasonable use and enjoyment of land, including, but not limited to, noise, smoke, odors, dust, fumes, particle emissions, or vibration."

CIVICS ED (HB 5) - SIGNED

Establishes new rules for civics education in Florida's public schools. The law requires that U.S. Government courses include a "comparative discussion of political ideologies that conflict with the principles of freedom and democracy in the nation's founding principles."

POLICE REFORM (SB 7051) - ON DESK

If DeSantis signs it, the provisions in Florida's police reform bill take effect July 1. They include improved use of force training for law enforcement, limits on chokeholds, better record-keeping to prevent the hiring of bad officers and stopping arrests of children seven and younger unless they commit forcible felonies.

SCHOOL SAFETY (SB 590) - ON DESK

If DeSantis signs it, the law adds a slew of new school safety provisions. They include requiring all school safety officers to undergo crisis intervention training. A full list can be found here.

PARENT BILL OF RIGHTS (HB 241) - ON DESK

Upon coming law, the policy would create a clear list of parental rights when interacting with schools and medical providers. It could make it easier for parents to exempt a child from things like vaccination or courses like sex education.