TALLAHASSEE, Florida (AP) - An overhaul of high school graduationstandards, an attempt to ban bongs, and additional restrictions onabortion are on a long list of new Florida laws that take effect Monday.
A measure that critics contend will speed up executions in Florida alsois scheduled to take effect, although the Timely Justice Act has alreadysparked a legal challenge.
More than 150 new laws passed by the Florida Legislature and signed intolaw by Gov. Rick Scott take effect Monday. They include the state's$74.1 billion budget, with $480 million that legislators set aside forteacher pay raises.
"I'm very proud of the budget that the Legislature passed this session.Public education and environmental protection were the big winners,"said Sen. Joe Negron, the Appropriations Committee Chairman. "I'mparticularly happy that we're rewarding good teachers who give it theirall in the classroom every day."
An abortion measure will require medical care for newborns who survivebotched procedures. It penalizes providers who don't have medical carefor infants born alive despite attempted abortions.
An attempt to snuff out bongs also becomes law, although there arequestions as to how effective it will be. The measure will make itillegal for shops to "knowingly and willfully" sell the pipes for use toconsume illegal drugs.
New high school graduation standards will revise requirements put inplace just three years earlier. The new law removes requirements to passAlgebra II and end-of-course exams in geometry and biology to earndiploma. Students instead will be allowed to take career educationcourses or enroll in work-related internships to earn a diploma.
Floridians who rent will also be subject to changes that could make iteasier for landlords to evict them. Under the new law, a tenant couldpay partial rent and still be evicted within days if they fail to turnover the rest of the money. The measure also allows a landlord to evict atenant if a person breaks rules twice in one year. Those rules caninclude parking in the wrong spot or having an unauthorized pet.
Local law enforcement will be limited in their ability to useremotely-controlled aircraft known as drones under another new law thattakes effect. The measure restricts the use of drones to the preventionof imminent danger to life - a kidnapping or a missing child - orserious damage to property.
It also makes police get search warrants before using drones to collectevidence. An exception would be a credible threat of a terrorist attack.Only a handful of law enforcement agencies in Florida are currentlylicensed by the federal government to fly drones.
An attempt by state lawmakers to overhaul Florida's capital punishmentprocess has already drawn a legal challenge that contends the newmeasure violates due process rights for death row inmates.
The Timely Justice Act of 2013 creates tighter timeframes for appealsand post-conviction motions, and it imposes reporting requirements oncase progress. It also re-establishes a separate agency for northFlorida to provide appellate-level legal representation to inmatessentenced to death and requires them to "pursue all possible remedies instate court."
The Scott administration has disputed arguments that the new law will"speed up executions." Instead the governor's office says the changeswill bring clarity to the system and will make it more transparent byrequiring official notification when an inmate has exhausted appeals.
Mark Schlakman, senior program director for Florida State University'sCenter for Advancement of Human Rights, agreed that the bill doesn'tnecessarily speed up executions, but he said many still have thatimpression because of the tough, pro-death penalty talk bill sponsorRep. Matt Gaetz used when arguing for it.
"If you read the bill, it just doesn't on the face of it do everythingthat it's been reported to have done," Schlakman said. "There's beensubstantial confusion surrounding the bill. The sponsor's rhetoricreally has fueled that."
He also said if the intent was to fix problems with the death penalty,it likely won't work, especially since some provisions will likely getthrown out in court.