More than 200 bills passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Governor Ron DeSantis went into effect on July 1, 2023. Several of the new laws have been the subject of much controversy, and some have already been contested legally.
Most notably, there have been big changes in immigration, the ability to carry concealed firearms, and sex education in public schools. Here’s a closer look at some of the new laws that Floridians are talking about:
IMMIGRATION – SB 1718
This new law, intended to curb illegal immigration, requires private companies with more than 25 employees to use E-Verify to prove the legal employment eligibility of workers. Employers who knowingly employ immigrants without proper documentation will be subject to penalties. The severity of the penalties will depend on the number of undocumented immigrants employed by the company
In addition, the new law requires that Florida hospitals that accept Medicaid will be required to document whether or not patients are U.S. citizens. However, citizenship nor legal status will affect an individual’s medical care, and undocumented patients will not be reported to immigration authorities.
“PERMITLESS CARRY” – HB 543
Prior to this law going into effect, individuals wanting to carry a concealed weapon were required to have a government-issued permit and take a training course in firearm safety. Neither will be required with the passing of HB 543. Gun owners will still not be able to carry concealed weapons in places like airports, courts, schools, and other places where gun possession is restricted or banned.
ELIMINATION OF DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION INITIATIVES IN FLORIDA COLLEGES – SB 266
Under SB 266, colleges and universities will be prevented from spending state or federal money to support or maintain programs or campus activities that “advocate for” diversity, equity, and inclusion. Schools will also not be able to spend money on programs/activities that “promote or engage in political or social activism,” as defined by the State Board of Education.
The law also seeks to place new requirements on general-education core courses. For example, courses may be barred if based on “theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequities.”
PARENTAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION EXPANSION – SB 1069
The State Board of Education had already effectively prohibited instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity through high school. SB 1069 codifies that through at least 8th grade. The legislation also prohibits any requirement that school officials use preferred pronouns that don’t match the gender assigned at birth.
RIGHT TO DENY CARE – SB 1580
Health care providers now have the right to turn patients away and refuse treatment based on “conscience-based objections.” Governor DeSantis says it empowers physicians to act within their “own morals.”
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