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New Florida Laws: A Wave of Change Sweeps the Sunshine State

new florida laws 2024, GOLDLAW

New Florida Laws: A Wave of Change Sweeps the Sunshine State

Florida’s legislative landscape underwent a seismic shift on Monday, July 1, 2024, as almost 200 new laws took effect, reshaping everything from immigration enforcement to school curriculums and even balloon releases.

These sweeping changes have sparked heated debate and ignited passionate discourse across the state. From contentious restrictions on gender identity discussions in schools to controversial measures aimed at undocumented immigrants, the impact of these new laws is far-reaching and deeply personal for many Floridians.  Read on to discover what’s new and what it means for you.

1. HB 49: Teen Labor Rights

This law eases restrictions on work hours for 16- and 17-year-olds. Although it maintained the 30-hour work week for the teens while school is in sessions, it did make some key changes:

  • Eliminated daily hour restrictions: Previously, 16- and 17-year-olds could not work more than 8 hours on a school day. This restriction has been removed.

  • Allows work during school hours for certain students: The law allows homeschooled student, those enrolled in virtual education programs, and those who have dropped out of school to work during school hours.

  • Changes restrictions on Sundays and holidays: 16- and 17-year-olds can how work more than 8 hours on Sundays and holidays, even if they have school the next day.

PROS: Offers teems more work opportunities, flexibility for businesses, potential for teens to gain valuable work experience.

CONS: “HB 49 reverses long-standing child labor protections and prioritizes employer interests over education, safety, and well-being of our youth. The State should be pursuing legislation that incentivizes and prioritizes youth education.” – Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel at the ACLU of Florida.

2. HB 321: Releasing Balloons

This law prohibits the intentional release of balloons. It is designed to protect wildlife and the environment, but some view it as governmental overreach.

PROS: Protects wildlife from ingesting balloon debris, reduces environmental pollution, promotes responsible celebration practices.

CONS: Some perceive it as government overreach, limits certain forms of expression and celebration

3. HB 7063: Stripper Age Requirement

This law raises the minimum age for strippers to 21, aiming to protect young people from exploitation. While widely supported, some question its effectiveness and potential unintended consequences. Despite the fact that it serves as a protective measure for young women, there are also many concerns about the law:

  • Infringement on Freedom of Expression: Some argue dancing is a form of artistic expression, protected by the 1st Amendment, and the law unfairly restricts the rights of young adults to engage in this form of expression.

  • Limited Evidence of Effectiveness: Critics question the law’s effectiveness in combatting human trafficking, arguing that there’s limited evidence linking adult entertainment establishments to trafficking.

  • Arbitrary Age Restrictions: Some question the arbitrariness of the age restriction, arguing that 18- to 20-year-olds are considered adults in other contexts and should be allowed to make their own choices about employment.

4. HB 385: Child Custody Exchange Locations

This law gives courts the power to require parents to use neutral exchange locations for child custody transfers. It aims to protect children from potential harm during exchanges.

PROS: Enhances safety of children during custody exchanges, reduces potential for conflict and violence between parents.

CONS: May inconvenience parents, especially in rural areas, potential for increased legal disputes over exchange locations.

5. HB 601: Civilian Oversight Boards

This law mandates that civilian oversight boards for law enforcement be appointed by sheriffs or police chiefs. Critics argue this undermines the independence of these boards.

PROS: By centralizing the appointment process under law enforcement, the law may create a more uniform and efficient approach to handling misconduct complaints within law enforcement agencies. Supporters also argue that this structure will provide improved accountability, as those with direct knowledge of law enforcement operations can make informed decisions about oversight.

CONS: Critics argue that allowing law enforcement to appoint civilian oversight boards undermines their independence, potentially leading to biased investigations and reduced public trust in the process. There is also concern that appointed boards may be less willing to critically examine misconduct within their own departments, compromising objectivity.

While the rule of law is a cornerstone of democratic societies, It’s not an absolute guarantee of justice. There can be instances where laws are unjust or their application results in unfair outcomes. It’s crucial to remember that the pursuit of justice goes beyond the mere adherence to laws and necessitates a deeper consideration of fairness, equity, and the potential for laws to be fallible and in need of reform. Be sure to check the GOLDLAW Blog often, as we will continue to discuss new florida laws.