New year, new laws: These laws took effect on Jan. 1

ORLANDO, Fla. — A new year means new laws. Here are the ones that went into effect in Florida on New Year’s Day:

School buses (HB 37)

Starting Friday, a bill will increase penalties for motorists who drive improperly when buses are picking up and dropping off children. Drivers who fail to stop for a school bus will be fined $200. Drivers who pass a stopped school bus on the side where children enter and exit will be fined $400.

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Insurance (SB 292)

An insurance bill will require insurance carriers to provide a “loss run statement” starting Friday. The bill states that insurance providers will be required to provide the statement within 15 days of a written request from a policyholder. It also prohibits insurance carriers from charging fees for preparing or annually providing single loss-run statements.

Elections (HB 1005)

The bill gives county canvassing boards and supervisors of elections the option to use state-certified, digital-imaging, automated tabulating equipment that is not part of the county’s voting system to conduct both machine and manual recounts.

Currently, only nine counties — Bay, Broward, Columbia, Hillsborough, Indian River, Leon, Nassau, Putnam, and St. Lucie — are expected to use the equipment to conduct post-certification, automated audits for the 2020 election cycle.

The bill authorizes the logic and accuracy testing of voting tabulating equipment to start as early as 25 days before early voting begins, rather than 10 days before early voting begins as under current law, to avoid any delay in the canvassing of vote-by-mail ballots.

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Minimum wage

Starting Friday, Florida’s minimum wage is set to go up by nine cents. Workers will earn at least $8.65 an hour.

In November, Floridians voted to raise the minimum wage gradually over the next six years. Under the six-year phase-in, the minimum wage would go up to $10 an hour starting next year, followed by a $1-per-hour increase each year until it reached $15 an hour in 2026. Future increases would then return to being adjusted for inflation, starting in 2027.

Penalties for violations of the constitutional prohibition against abuse of public position (HB 7009)

Lawmakers passed a bill to help carry out a 2018 constitutional amendment aimed at slowing the revolving door involving public officials and the private sector. It will take effect Thursday.

The bill will carry out what was Amendment 12 on the 2018 ballot. It penalizes public officials and employees who abuse their positions.

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The constitutional amendment says a “public officer or public employee shall not abuse his or her public position in order to obtain a disproportionate benefit for himself or herself; his or her spouse, children, or employer; or for any business with which he or she contracts; in which he or she is an officer, a partner, a director, or a proprietor; or in which he or she owns an interest.”

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.