The Florida Legislature passed, and Governor Desantis signed, numerous new laws that go into effect on July 1. Some of the laws that could affect you are as follows:
- Teacher Pay– The State of Florida has recognized that in order to provide the best education for its children, teachers must be paid reasonably. This law sets aside $400 million dollars to raise minimum base pay for full-time teachers to at least $47,500. An additional $100 million dollars will raise salaries for Florida’s veteran teachers. This will take Florida from the bottom of the salary rankings in the country to near the top. This law should help to attract and keep talented teachers where we need them, in the classroom.
- Vaping– 8 months after voters approved the constitutional amendment to ban vaping in most indoor workplaces, this law takes affect to carry out that amendment. The ban is similar to a longstanding law that prohibits smoking tobacco in indoor workplaces.
- Texting while Driving as a Primary Traffic Offense– This law allows police officers to pull over motorists who use their phones while driving. This law does not require that there be any other infraction in order for police to make the stop. The new law will also ban the use of any handheld wireless communication devices in school and construction zones. A first offense for violation of this law will be punishable by a $30.00 fine with a second offense costing $60.00. Court costs and Court fees will also apply, and points will be added to a motorist’s license.
- “Jordan’s Law” – This legislation was inspired by the traffic death of Jordan Belleview in 2018, a toddler from Largo, Florida. Jordan’s law requires communication between law enforcement agencies and the Florida Department of Children and Families related to certain individuals involved in the child welfare system. It also provides requirements for law enforcement offices and central abuse hotlines. The law authorizes lead agencies to provide intensive family reunification services combining child welfare and mental health services to certain families. Jordan’s law also helps to protect children from abuse in Florida’s child welfare system by reducing the workload for caseworkers. It also requires caseworkers to receive training on the recognition of and in response to head trauma and brain injury in young children.
This law will significantly help Florida’s foster care system. As an experienced foster parent, I have dealt with many caseworkers whose workload is unmanageable. Caseworkers are on the frontline with children and families who are going through foster care, and they need sufficient time and training in order to properly manage their children and families.
Lawmakers filed about 3,500 bills in this session and passed 191. For a complete list of the bills that passed visit https://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/BillSummaries/2020
This blog was written by Partner Jeffrey Gordon.