As a new year and new decade arrives there are also a wave of new and improved laws taking effect in Florida. While most of Florida’s new laws went into effect over the summer here are a few that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
YOUR LEGAL DOCUMENTS CAN BE ELECTRONICALLY NOTARIZED
Now, you’ll be able to have your documents electronically notarized in Florida. Under the updated law (Bill 00409) the signer and witnesses can appear before a registered online notary public at the time of notarization either in person or by “means of audio-video communication technology.”
The law also lists various protections to increase digital security. You can also learn more in our blog Dawn of the Online Notary.
TEXTING AND DRIVING? GET READY FOR A TICKET
Although the Texting and Driving law took effect on July 1, 2019, you can expect officers to enforce the law by issuing uniform traffic citations as of January 1. Under the new law, a first texting offense will be punishable by a $30 fine and court fees. A second offense carries a $60 fine, court costs and related fees, and three points on a driver’s license. A first offense involving texting in school or construction zones also carries additional license points. First offenders can purchase hands-free Bluetooth devices, show proof of purchase, and complete a “Driver Safety Education” course in order to avoid fines and license penalties.
FLORIDA’S MINIMUM WAGE TO INCREASE
Florida’s minimum wage of $8.46 will be slightly increasing to $8.56 an hour in 2020, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. Tipped workers will also see a small increase from $5.44 per hour to $5.54 an hour, in addition to tips.
Those looking for a bigger pay raise will have to wait until November’s elections to have their voices heard. One of the constitutional amendments will be asking voters whether the state’s minimum wage should gradually rise to $15 an hour. If approved by at least 60 percent of voters, the amendment would increase Florida’s minimum wage to $10 an hour on Sept. 30, 2021, and increase it by $1 an hour each year until it hits $15 an hour on Sept. 30, 2026.
REMEMBERING THOSE WHO SERVE
A veteran-themed “Honor and Remember” flag was created to recognize the “service and sacrifice of the men and women of the United States Armed Forces who have given their lives in the line of duty,” according to the bill. The Flag is presented to Gold Star Families whose loved ones were killed in action. It’s the newest flag to fly in the Sunshine State as a way to honor those who gave it all and the family they left behind.
Law HB 831 will now make it required that your prescription is sent electronically. There are a few upsides to this including no more bad doctor hand writing, and avoiding problems if doctors don’t document all the dosage and quantity on a paper chart. Florida lawmakers also feel this new law could help combat the opioid epidemic. Make sure you update your pharmacy information with your physician’s office.
LOWER COMMERCIAL LEASE TAXES
It’s not much but taxes for a commercial lease drop from 5.7% to 5.5% starting January 1. This change will directly impact leases of office space, retail space, and warehouse space, among others.The decrease only applies to the state sales tax rate and does not impact county surtax rates imposed by some Florida counties, which ranges from 0.5% to 2.5%.
LEGAL AGE TO BUY TOBACCO INCREASED TO 21
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has officially changed the federal minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21. The new minimum age applies to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vaping cartridges. Fines for selling smoking products to those underage range from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
Have a legal question about the new laws? The Kendrick Law Group’s knowledgeable attorneys provide a variety of legal services in various areas of law. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and learn how our attorneys can help you.