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New Florida laws took effect on Oct. 1

Lazaro Aleman

Greene Publishing, Inc.

In case you thought there weren’t enough laws on the books in Florida already, here are several of 26 new laws that went into effect on Oct. 1.

The new laws, among other things, raised the annual salaries of county elections supervisors and upped the penalties for trafficking in the modern version of food stamps, as well as for stealing credit-card information at gas pumps.

Following are some of the new measures that were passed in Florida (HB stands for House Bill and SB for Senate Bill, depending which chamber sponsored the legislation):

HB-75 expands the rules regarding electronic monitoring devices. It makes it a third-degree felony to ask another person to remove or help circumvent the operation of a monitoring device.

SB-218 aims to reduce trafficking in electronic-benefit transfer cards. These cards, which represent a higher-tech form of food stamps, help provide food assistance to low-income Floridians. The measure would, in part, make it a first-degree misdemeanor to have two or more EBT cards and to sell or attempt to sell one of the cards. A second offense would be a third-degree felony.

HB-387, named "Carl's Law", increases civil and criminal penalties when victims are people with disabilities. Carl Stark, a 36-year-old autistic man from St. Augustine, was shot and killed in 2015 after being targeted by teenagers looking to steal a car.

SB-436 makes it a second-degree felony to make false reports about using firearms in a violent manner. The law further makes it a first-degree misdemeanor to threaten to kill or do serious harm to law-enforcement officers, state attorneys or assistant state attorneys, firefighters, judges, elected officials or any of their family members.

SB-514 adjusts the salaries of county elections supervisors and makes it the same as the salaries for clerks of court, property appraisers and tax collectors. It’s calculated that the change will result in $1.2 million in salary increases across the state, with the average increase about $18,540 per county.

HB-545 prohibits people under 18 from being prosecuted for prostitution and makes it clear that sexually exploiting a child in prostitution should be viewed as human trafficking. It also increases the penalty for people who knowingly rent space that is used for prostitution.

SB-912 increases the penalties for individuals possessing counterfeit credit-card information. It is part of a crackdown on illegal electronic skimmers found on gas pumps and ATM machines. The measure also requires that gas-station owners and managers use security measures on self-service fuel pumps.

HB-7071 is intended to ease the legal threshold to prosecute officials involved in public corruption. Rather than proving an official acted "with corrupt intent," prosecutors now only need show that the person "knowingly and intentionally" engaged in the corrupt act.

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