(10/1/2010) – The State of Florida has a host of brand new laws going into effect Friday October 1st, including tighter regulation of pain clinics, protection from hate crimes for homeless people and you can no longer threaten someone via e-mail unless you’re willing to risk jail time.
There are 32 new Florida laws including:
Pain Clinics: Crack down on the sale of prescription painkillers to addicts and drug dealers by “pill mills” through provision that limit advertising, bar patients without insurance from getting more than a three-day supply and impose stiff penalties on doctors and clinics that violate prescribing rules. (This law is being challenged in federal court.)
Homeless Hate Crime: Make prejudice-motivated attacks on homeless people hate crimes that can result in more severe penalties. For example, a second-degree misdemeanor would be elevated to a first-degree misdemeanor if committed against a homeless person, and a first-degree misdemeanor would become a third-degree felony.
Street Racing: Increase repeat offense penalties for street racers under what is titled the Luis Rivera Ortega Street Racing Act after a 15-year-old boy killed by an alleged street racer while riding his bicycle on New Year’s Day 2009 in Orange County. Street racers with repeat offenses will face bigger fines. Second violations will result in a fine of at least $1,000. Three or more offenses will mean fines of $2,000 to $5,000 and a possible four-year driver’s license revocation.
Cyber Threats: People who send letters threatening to kill or injure someone by e-mail or other electronic communications will be punishable by up to 15 years in prison as already provided for if those same threats are made on paper.
Methadone: Allow the death penalty for the unlawful distribution of methadone that causes a user’s death. Methadone is a synthetic pain killer, typically used to wean addicts off heroin.
Fake Soldiers: Make it illegal to impersonate military veterans when soliciting donations from the public. Those who are found to be misrepresenting themselves could be convicted of a third-degree felony.
Rogue Debt Collectors: Crack down on rogue debt collectors by making it easier to regulate the industry and increasing penalties.
Secrecy Preserved: Rather than let confidentially rules expire, as certain public records laws do after five years, the Legislature voted to keep complaints to the state Ethics Commission against public officials secret. The Ethics Commission also may ban the public from proceedings. Final rulings from the commission ultimately are made public, however. Also remaining exempt from public records laws are the addresses of domestic violence victims, so their abusers may not track them down. The state will issue substitute addresses for such victims and handle their mail delivery.
Not all of the new laws involve crime and punishment. You now can donate to worthy charities when you renew a driver’s license or spell out your particular interest through new specialty license tags.
Specialty Plates: Among Florida’s 114 specialty license tags, there are now some new ones. Each costs $25 extra a year. “Catch Me, Release Me” will fund marine research, education and outreach. “Discover Florida’s Horses” will help fund operations at the Florida Agricultural Center and Horse Park Authority in Marion County. “Save Wild Florida” will go to research and education involving the state’s plants and animals. The “St. Johns River” specialty license plate will raise money for research projects and community outreach and access programs selected by the St. Johns River Alliance.
Tag Office Charity: When renewing your license or vehicle registrations, motorists can donate $1 to non-profit organizations dedicated to blind children, people with developmental disabilities or for the prevention of child sex abuse.