Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Guns at Work' Law, Others to Take Hold; Higher DUI Fines, Boat Fees among New Ones

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Guns at Work' Law, Others to Take Hold; Higher DUI Fines, Boat Fees among New Ones

Article excerpt


A passel of new state laws cooked up by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Charlie Crist takes effect Tuesday and could affect your freedom as well as your pocketbook. And because of the new "guns at work" law, it'd be best not to get a co-worker mad at you.

The new gun law, which is being challenged in federal court by business interests, prohibits private and public employers from banning legally owned and permitted firearms that are locked inside vehicles in their parking lots. They also cannot ask their employees or guests if they have a firearm in their car, cannot search the vehicle and cannot refuse to hire or take action against an employee, customer or guest because of a firearm in the vehicle.

The law does not apply to schools, correctional institutions, nuclear power plants or any facility involved in the manufacture, storage, use or transportation of combustible or explosive materials regulated by state or federal law.

Nothing in the law bans the employers from taking action against anyone who makes threats. But there is no prohibition to ban such guns from the parking lots at day-care centers, hospitals, nursing homes, courthouses, shopping malls, television stations or newspaper offices.

The Florida Retail Federation and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which were not successful lobbying legislators against enacting the law, filed the lawsuit that is pending before U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkley. During a hearing last week, Hinkley said the law was so poorly written that is was "stupid." However, he said he needed more time to consider a request for a temporary injunction before the law goes into effect Tuesday.

Here are some of the other new laws:

-- CRIMES ON CHILDREN: A second conviction of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child younger than 12 by a person 18 or older is punishable by a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole. This bill was sponsored by Rep. Dick Kravitz, R-Jacksonville.

-- ANTI-GANG: The Legislature strengthened anti-gang laws in several ways including enhancing penalties and making it against the law to use an electronic device such as a cell phone to plan criminal activity.

-- COURT FEES: Filing a small claims action for more than $2,500 will go from $255 to $300; removal of a tenant, from $80 to $270; marriage dissolution, from $364 to $409; adoptions, from $294 to $343 and probating a will of an estate over $1,000, from $205 to $230.

-- HEALTH INSURANCE: Dependents up to age 30 and still in college can be covered under their parents' health insurance policy. Another change creates a provision of low-cost bare-bones health insurance coverage for about $150 a month for people who have been without it for at least six months. And businesses of 50 or fewer employees now have to provide a variety of health coverage plans. …

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