At 6:40 p.m. Wednesday, craft brewers throughout Florida will hoist their 64-ounce growlers in a communal toast to the 64-ounce growler — the popular mega-mug that becomes legal Wednesday as part of the state’s 131 new laws going into effect on July 1.
“We finally got it through,” said Mike Halker, founder of Due South South Brewing Co. in Boynton Beach. Halker, also president of the Florida Brewers Guild, has worked for three years to get the legislation passed that would legalize growlers, long popular in other states and countries.
“It’s nice to be along with the rest of the country and not this weird state,” said Halker, who helped organize the statewide toast, widely promoted on social media as #fl64. “It’s just a better size.”
Disabled people needing service animals, people concerned about drones violating their privacy and anyone with a cell phone contract may want to join in the toast.
Other new laws on the books make passing a pet off as a service animal or harassing a disabled person about the need for a service animal a second-degree misdemeanor. And drone operators will no longer be allowed to spy on people when they are on private property where they enjoy a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Key among the other laws going into effect on Wednesday is the state’s $78.7 billion budget — the largest in state history — crafted during a special session called when lawmakers could not reach agreement during the regular session, which ended on May 1.
Also hashed out in the special session: a $372.4 million package of tax cuts on the cost of cell phone and cable TV contracts, gun club memberships, college textbooks, luxury boat repairs, certain agricultural supplies and services, school extracurricular fundraisers, aviation fuel at select flight-training academies and motor vehicles purchased overseas by internationally deployed service members from Florida.
The cell phone tax cut will mean an annual tax savings of $20.76 for someone who pays $1,200 a year, or $100 a month, for cell phone service.
While all of the 131 new bills with July 1 effective dates were on schedule to become law at midnight Tuesday, one — the 24-hour waiting period for abortions — has a lot of litigation ahead for it. A Leon County circuit judge on Tuesday granted an emergency request to block the law, but the state quickly appealed, which forestalls the injunction at least until an appellate court rules.
Also effective today:
- Local law enforcement agencies can no longer impose traffic ticket quotas.
- Government buildings may only fly American-made flags.
- Public skateboard and freestyle bicycling parks will no longer be required to obtain parental consent for users under 17 and shall retain immunity from lawsuits.
- A voluntary certification program for sober homes.
- Public health officials can use law enforcement to isolate people or places suspected of being infected with dangerous communicable disease.
Terminally ill patients can have access to experimental drugs that have been clinical trials but have not been approved for general use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Doctors can prescribe an “opioid antagonist” for halting overdoses to people at risk of overdoses or to their caregivers. in emergency situations to halt overdoses.
Craft distillers can sell directly to consumers but with stringent limits.
Florida lawmakers passed 231 of the 1,754 bills during the 60-day legislative session that ended May 1. Sixty-three of those went into effect immediately upon Gov. Rick Scott’s signature, while others have later effective dates.
Among those that went into effect immediately: laws allowing people without conceal-carry permits to pocket their weapons when forced to leave home because of hurricanes and other disasters; letting current and past members of the U.S. armed forces, reserves or National Guard since Sept. 11, 2001 to ask to have their home and personal information exempt from state public record; allowing rural letter carriers to drive without a seat belt while working their routes; and requiring fewer tests to be given to public-school students.
SOME LAWS IN EFFECT
COURTS & CRIME
Police body cameras: SB 248 Keeps confidential police videos that are shot in a house, a health care facility or any place that a “reasonable person would expect to be private.”
Revenge porn: SB 538 Makes it a first-degree misdemeanor to “willfully and maliciously” sexually “cyber-harass” someone through the disclosure of sexually explicit images.
Human trafficking: HB 469 Exempts from the public records law information about location of safe houses, safe foster homes and other residential facilities serving victims of sexual exploitation. HB 369, by Rep. Dave Kerner, D-Lake Worth, requires human-trafficking warning signs with a hotline number to be posted at strip clubs, massage parlors, public clinics, rest stops and farm-labor hiring sites.
Prostitution: HB 465 Increase penalties for people who hire prostitutes. A first offense would go from a second-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree misdemeanor. A second offense would be a third-degree felony and a third offense a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Guardianship: HB 5 Requires advance notice before hearings on the appointment of emergency temporary guardians. Would also allow mediation of guardianship disputes among family members and require reporting of incidents of abuse, neglect and exploitation of wards by guardians.
Traffic ticket quotas: SB 264, dubbed the “Waldo Bill” after the north Florida city known as a speed trap, bans local traffic enforcement agencies from imposing ticket quotas.
Standardized tests: HB 7069 caps at 5 percent the share of student time that can be devoted to testing and eliminates some 11th grade tests. Also gone: district-required end-of-course exams in subjects not covered by state assessments. Also allows districts to start school year earlier in August.
Child-welfare: After passing a major overhaul of the child-welfare system last year, lawmakers passed a bill (SB 7078) to tweak the new system, including expanding the role of the state’s Critical Incident Rapid Response Team beyond investigating child deaths.
Secret recordings: Allows children to secretly record conversations related to sexual abuse or violent crimes if they believe recording the conversation will show that the person being recorded has committed or intends to commit a crime against them (HB 7001).
Grandparents’ rights: Gives grandparents and great-grandparents a legal avenue to see their grandchildren if one parent is dead, missing or in a vegetative state and the other has a history of violence or is a felon. Stems from a Central Florida case in which a woman disappeared and her children were barred from seeing their grandparents (HB 149).
Internet piracy: Websites that sell commercial music and movies must post identification and contact information on their sites. The new law was opposed by some of the nation’s largest Internet companies (SB 604).
PSC reforms: HB 7109 Limits future members of the Public Service Commission to three consecutive, four-year terms, require utilities to notify customers of the best available rates and prevents electric utilities from charging higher rates through extensions of billing cycles.
Sober homes: Creates a voluntary certification program for sober homes aimed at protecting recovering addicts and alcoholics from predatory operators and quelling concerns of neighbors (HB 21).
Service animals: Makes it a second-degree misdemeanor to misrepresent a pet as a service animal or harass disabled service-animal owners about their disability and need for the service animal (HB 71).
Drones: Prohibits drones from being used to watch people when they are on private property where they enjoy a “reasonable expectation of privacy,” defined as place where a person “is not observable by a person located at ground level…regardless of whether he or she is observable from the air” (SB 766).
Taxpayer email addresses: Creates a public-records exemption for taxpayer email addresses held by a county tax collector (SB 200).
Police, firefighter pensions: Allows cities scale back on financing extra benefits if they can show there are not enough tax dollars to cover them. Also would increase minimum accrual rates for benefits (SB 172).
Government contractors: Restricts ability of cities, counties and other government agencies to give preference to local contractors on projects that receive at least 50 percent of their funding from the state (SB 778).
Land for baseball stadium: HB 1213 Frees up 27 acres of land near the M Canal in West Palm Beach for parking for a $135 million spring-training baseball complex that the Houston Astros and Washington National plan to build in the city.
Medical quarantine: HB 697 Allows public health officials the power to use law enforcement to isolate people, animals or places suspected of being infected with dangerous communicable disease.
Right to Try Act: Allows terminally ill patients have access to experimental drugs that have been through what is known as “phase 1” of a clinical trial but have not been approved for general use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (HB 269).
Opiate antagonist: Allow doctors to prescribe an “opioid antagonist,” which can be injected in emergency situations to halt overdoses. Under the bill, the opioid antagonists could be prescribed to people at risk of overdoses or to their caregivers (HB 751).
Online voter registration: Establishes online voter registration system by 2017 (SB 228).
Write-in absentee ballots: Active service members away from home and overseas voters can use the federal write-in absentee ballot in any state or local election (SB 184).
Growlers: Permits the sale of 64-ounce growlers and allows brewers to operate taprooms where they sell their brews directly to customers at up to eight locations. Also limits the amount of beer from other companies brewers can sell on-site (SB 186).
Craft distillers: Enables craft distillers to sell directly to consumers but with stringent limits (SB 596).
Carrying concealed weapon during evacuation: Gun owners can carry their lawfully-owned guns without a concealed weapons permit during a state-ordered evacuation, such as before a hurricane (SB 290).