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Over 100 new state laws take effect this month

Lobsters bubbled a sigh of relief Tuesday when several new Florida laws went into effect, including tougher penalties for spiny lobster poachers.

But this was just one of the 157 bills Fla. Gov. Rick Scott signed into law.

U.S. Veterans. HB 7015

U.S. military veterans and National Guard members may now claim in-state tuition, regardless of residency. Before the bill, many veterans paid out-of-state tuition, costing approximately $10,900 more than in-state tuition. 

Joshua Davis, a junior majoring in anthropology, said he joined the U.S. Air Force in hopes of one day receiving a college education. 

“I think I deserve it. I did my civic duty,” he said. “Sometimes I refer to it as I sold my soul for school.”

Sexual Offenders. SB 522, SB 524, SB 526, SB 528, HB 7005

Effective Oct. 1, tougher sentences will be enforced for sexual offenses against minors.

Colleges and universities are also now required to notify students and faculty of the sexual offender registry during orientation. Convicted offenders will now also be required to carry a driver’s license with “SEXUAL PREDATOR” stamped on the card.

E-Cigarettes. SB 224

The bill expands tobacco regulations to e-cigarettes. As such, e-cigarettes cannot be sold or bought for anyone under the age of 18. 

The bill regulates nicotine-dispensing devices, but also includes e-cigarettes without nicotine.

Nicholas Taurus, a freshman majoring in computer science, said he thinks it is a good idea to restrict marketing to youth, but doubts it will make a difference. 

“People will buy them for kids anyway,” he said. “I don’t think anyone really cares.”

Davis, who also uses an e-cigarette, said it’s his experience that e-cigarette vendors card clients regardless of the law.

Tuition Equality. HB 851

Students who graduate high school in Florida after three years of residency now qualify for in-state tuition at any state college or university, regardless of immigration status. 

Also included in the bill is a clause preventing state universities from increasing tuition without the consent of Florida Legislature. 

Epinephrine Injectors. HB 1131

Restaurants, youth sports leagues, theme parks and sports arenas are given greater access and permission to use epinephrine auto-injectors in case of an allergic reaction emergency. 

Other bills passed

Insurance companies cannot discriminate against gun owners. Text messages are included in the Do Not Call program. Public schools must allow parents a platform to contest textbooks and subject material. Renewing vehicle tags is less expensive. Florida State Poet Laureate is no longer a lifelong title.