LAKE MARY, fla. - The new year has arrived, and now that the confetti has fallen and the New Year’s resolutions are in effect -- or maybe already broken for some -- it’s time to get up-to-date on the new laws that may affect you this year.
Across the country and right here in Florida several sweeping new laws took hold as of January 1st and others gained new teeth.
Texting and Driving: This is the big one for Floridians. Texting and driving is now considered a primary offense on Florida roads. That means law enforcement can pull you over and ticket you just for texting behind the wheel, and they can even nab drivers for just holding the phone while behind the wheel in a school or work zone.
Electronic Notarization: It’s not something most of us use too often, but the next time you need a document notarized, you may be able to get it done without leaving home. A new Florida law allows some notaries to be licensed as electronic notaries who can meet with clients via video chat.
Electronic Prescriptions Only: Gone are the days of delivering a prescription order to your pharmacist via hand-written doctor’s note. Florida doctors now must send prescription orders to pharmacies electronically, so pharmacists no longer have to decipher doctor hand-writing.
Florida Remembers Flag: A new law (HB 427), establishes the Honor and Remember Flag, which will honor members of the military who have died in the line of duty. The law authorizes the flag to be flown at state buildings and by local governments on Veterans Day, Gold Star Mother’s Day or any day when a member of the military from Florida dies in the line of duty.
Tax Fine Print: As part of an $87 million tax relief package (HB 7123), a sales-tax rate on commercial leases will be trimmed from 5.7 percent to 5.5 percent. The reduction is expected to produce a $30.8 million cut in state and local taxes in the remaining six months of the fiscal year. Over a full year, the savings are estimated at $64.5 million.
Minimum Wage Increase: Florida’s minimum wage workers got a raise. As of January 1st the state minimum wage increased from $8.46 per hour to $8.56 per hour. It’s just 10 cents for now, but a voter petition is currently circulating to put a $15 per hour minimum wage on this year’s election ballot.
21 to Smoke and Vape: The FDA announced last week that the federal age limit to buy cigarettes or to vape is now officially raised from 18 to 21. The organization said the change is in effect immediately.
Bicycles, Car Seats, and Human Cloning…Oh My! Finally, these last few aren’t for Floridians, but are definitely drawing some interest nation-wide. In Oregon, bicyclists are now allowed to treat stop signs like yields in many circumstances. Washington state has a new law requiring kids up to age 13, or 4’9”, to use booster seats while riding in cars. And Arkansas has a new law this year banning state funding for scientific research that could lead to human