HomeMore Than 100 New State Laws Take Effect

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A law aimed at protecting Floridians from unwanted surveillance is one of more than 100 that take effect Wednesday.

The law — dubbed the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act — spells out that unmanned aerial drones can’t be used for surveillance. It also says when devices can be used.

“From my standpoint, I think it’s a good start,” said Stephen Myers, owner of Angel Eyes UAV in Naples. “It’s a good beginning.”

Drones can be used to assess property taxes, for aerial mapping, and to conduct environmental monitoring. The law also says that drones can be used by a person licensed by the state to perform “reasonable tasks within the scope” of the person’s job. Myers said that could mean insurance companies can use drones for roof inspections or to inspect large properties, like golf courses, for damage following a storm.

Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, said he supported the law because it protected Floridians’ privacy, while still allowing some commercial uses.

“We’ve seen the technology for drones evolve rather rapidly and the technology has exceeded the statutory privacy protections,” said Rodrigues, who co-sponsored the measure in the House. “I saw a strong effort to ensure our right to privacy. It addressed the concerns I had.”

The drone law is one of dozens — including the state’s $78 billion spending plan and a nearly $400 million tax cut package — that went into effect Wednesday, the first day of the state’s fiscal year.

Among new laws are:

The state’s decades old ban on gay adoption will be struck from the books. The law was ruled unconstitutional in 2010, but this year lawmakers included removing the language as part of a larger adoption bill. The law also offers incentives to community-based organizations that meet certain adoption goals and restarts a program to offer incentives to state workers who adopt.

Some vaccines will be easier to get in Florida. The law allows patients to obtain several vaccines, including the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, at pharmacies, instead of at a doctor’s office. Under the law, pharmacists must apply to the Board of Pharmacy for immunization certification before they can administer the vaccines.

Victims can secretly record sex crimes. The law applies to victims under 18, and was a direct response to a Lee County case where a man had his child sex abuse conviction and life sentence overturned last year. In the case, jurors heard secret recordings made by a 16-year-old girl, who said the tape showed him soliciting her for sex through veiled code words. The Supreme Court found there was no exception to the state law requiring all parties to consent to recordings and overturned that verdict.

One law that was expected to go into effect Wednesday will not, after a state judge blocked it. Chief Circuit Judge Charles Francis on Tuesday blocked a new state law that requires women to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the Center for Reproductive Rights sued after Scott signed it into law, arguing it violates the right to privacy guaranteed in the state constitution by interfering with the right of women to undergo the procedure.

Florida was scheduled to become the 27th state to have a mandatory waiting period, and backers of the measure predicted the law would withstand a legal challenge.

In his ruling, Francis wrote state officials had given no evidence to show why the new law is not a burden on privacy rights. The law has exceptions for victims of rape, incest, domestic abuse or human trafficking if women present doctors with a police report, restraining order or similar documentation backing their claim.

The fate of one law scheduled to go into effect Wednesday remained unclear Tuesday evening. On Tuesday, Judge Charles Francis, the chief judge for north Florida circuit court, blocked a new state law that requires women to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion.
Attorney General Pam Bondi appealed that decision Tuesday, which under court procedures stayed the ruling. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said it intended to ask Francis to reinstate his injunction
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the Center for Reproductive Rights sued after Scott signed it into law, arguing it violates the right to privacy guaranteed in the state constitution by interfering with the right of women to undergo the procedure.