Earlier this month, Florida governor Rick Scott signed a heap of new bills into law. Most of them are fairly mundane but those likely to make the headlines include new religions protections for members of the clergy who will not marry gay couples. Additionally, the state will make progress on a bill to replace a statue of confederate general Edmund Kirby Smith at the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. Smith was one of only two Floridians represented there.
A new religious protection bill, called the Pastor Protection Act, is likely to be among the most controversial of the new laws. This law grants churches and the clergy immunity from litigation if they refuse to perform a wedding ceremony they don’t want to perform. The measure was pushed through by religious groups who took issue with the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage.
Another new law, SB 232, recognizes a need for better regulation for guardians of the elderly to help protect them. In the same vein, SB 222 grants free parking at public airports to vehicles with a Disabled Veterans or a Paralyzed Veterans of America designation. This bill was prompted by a disabled veteran’s complaint that he was not given free parking at Tampa International Airport.
Smaller bills deal with more simple concerns: SB 112 replaces the term “absentee ballot” with the term “vote-by-mail ballot” for Florida Statutes. HB 695 aims to revise requirements regarding title insurance.
There is also some good news for Florida citizens on the SNAP food stamps program. HB 103 will allow participants to use the SNAP benefits to purchase fresh food. Some owners and operators of farmers’ markets, flea markets, community markets, or other open-air markets will be allowed to accept SNAP benefits electronically in exchange for fresh and local foods. This is good news for Florida, a state with many health concerns.
For a complete list of the new bills just signed into law, visit this link.