As the new year approaches, several Florida laws are on the verge of taking effect, bringing about changes and adjustments for residents of the Sunshine State. The 2024 session of the Florida Legislature is set to commence on January 9, but the new laws enacted in 2023 will come into force a week earlier, on January 1.
Governor Ron DeSantis has signed several bills, and below are some of the notable laws that will go into effect on New Year’s Day.
One of the laws, SB-76, focuses on State Park Campsite Reservations. Under this legislation, Florida residents will now have the opportunity to reserve campsites and cabins in state parks up to 11 months in advance. To secure a reservation, residents will be required to provide the identification number from their Florida ID card or driver’s license. Additionally, nonresidents will be able to make reservations up to 10 months in advance.
Another law, SB-144, addresses the provision of Lactation Spaces. County courthouses in Florida will now be required to establish at least one dedicated lactation space outside of a restroom. This space will provide women with a private area to breastfeed or express breast milk. The law went into effect on July 1, 2023, and all county courthouses must comply with this requirement by January 1, 2024. These lactation spaces must meet certain standards, including hygienic conditions, privacy, and the presence of an electrical outlet.
HB-425, also known as the ‘Move Over Law’ Expansion, expands Florida’s existing “Move Over Law.” This law previously required drivers to move over a lane, when safe to do so, for law enforcement, emergency workers, sanitation crews, tow trucks, construction vehicles, and utility service vehicles. Starting January 1, 2024, the law will be extended to include stopped vehicles on the road that display warning/hazard lights, use emergency flares or signage, or have at least one person visibly present.
SB-774 introduces Ethics Requirements for Public Officials. From January 1, 2024, mayors and elected members of municipalities will be obligated to disclose their financial interests within a given year. This requirement will involve submitting a document known as “Form 6” to the Florida Commission on Ethics. All sources of income exceeding $1,000 must be disclosed. This law ensures that these officials adhere to the same standards as other county and state officials.
Another law, SB-784, establishes a Special Persons Registry. Named the “Protect Our Loved Ones Act,” this legislation enables law enforcement agencies to create a database for individuals with disabilities that may affect their interactions with officers. Adults with disabilities can voluntarily enroll themselves in this registry, while minors and those deemed “incapacitated” can be enrolled by a parent or legal guardian. Enrollment requires documentation such as a birth certificate and proof of eligibility.
SB-1534, on Pretrial Release and Detention, introduces changes to the bail system. Only judges will now be authorized to set or modify a defendant’s bail, and the Supreme Court of Florida will be required to adopt a statewide bond schedule by January 1, 2024. This law prohibits judges from establishing a local bond schedule with a lower bond amount, although a chief judge may establish one that increases the monetary bond for specific offenses. Furthermore, individuals meeting certain criteria, such as being on pretrial release or having violated a protective injunction, will not be released before a first appearance hearing.
Lastly, SB-7056 concerns Child Protective Investigative Services. Broward, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Seminole, and Walton counties in Florida will transfer control of child protection investigations to the Florida Department of Children and Families by January 1, 2024. This law seeks to centralize and streamline these vital services.
As the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, these new laws will come into effect, shaping various aspects of life in Florida. Stay informed and be aware of these changes as we move into the new year.