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Several New Laws Take Effect In Florida In 2021

With the changing of the calendar each year comes changes to the laws of the state of Florida and jurisdictions related to it. As ignorance of a law is not generally recognized as a defense to breaking it in most jurisdictions, it pays to keep track of significant changes to Florida’s laws, especially since Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed over 200 bills into law in the course of the last legislative session. What follows is a brief summary of the changes in Florida law that took effect on January 1.

Minimum Wage

As of January 1 the Florida minimum wage rose by nine cents to $8.65 per hour. Workers who depend upon tipping as a significant portion of their income saw their minimum wage rise to $5.63 per hour. The bump in minimum wage is the result of a 2004 amendment to the Florida constitution that requires the state to raise the minimum wage as the cost of living rises. Don’t get too comfortable with this change, as a ballot initiative passed in November will have the minimum wage rising to $10 an hour in September.

Fines For Illegally Passing School Buses

The first of the year saw the fine for illegally passing a school bus rise as well. Now drivers in Florida risk a fine of at least $200 for passing a school bus while it is stopped and has red flashers active and its “stop” sign deployed. If caught illegally passing a school bus on the side where children enter and exit, drivers in Florida will face a minimum fine of $400. Both increases are double the original fines.

Betting On Dog Racing Now Illegal

For the first time in a century it is illegal to wager on live greyhound or other dog racing in the state of Florida. Thanks to a referendum in 2018 that was approved in a landslide, gambling with money or any other valuable object on the outcome of dog racing is illegal, and racing dogs for the purpose of gambling is prohibited.

E-Verify Now Mandatory

All government employers in the state of Florida as well as some private firms that use the federal electronic system called E-Verify must now use the system to run immigration checks on new workers. Florida’s governor DeSantis said during the latest legislative term that requiring the use of E-Verify was among his top priorities, with the employment losses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic only steeling his resolve.

On January 1 all public school districts, public universities, and state agencies will be required to use E-Verify on all new hires, and firms that contract with those entities are unable to bid on new jobs until they implement E-Verify in their business hiring process.

Testing Voting Equipment

For all subsequent elections in the state of Florida, testing of the voting equipment to be used must be done at least 25 days prior to the election. Last year the Florida Legislature passed HB 1005, which changed the existing rule that allowed testing after canvassing for mail-in ballots began.

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