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The 2014 Florida legislative session came to a close on Friday, May 2. More than 1,800 bills were filed this year, but only 264 made it through both chambers.

Bills that passed

Fee and tax reductions for consumers were a big priority for legislators this year, with the following passing:

  • reduction in motor vehicle registration fees
  • back-to-school shopping sales tax holiday in August
  • 3-day sales tax holiday in September for the purchase of energy-efficient appliances
  • 9-day sales tax holiday beginning May 31 on the sale of hurricane preparation supplies like batteries and generators

New procedures, including notification to consumers, are also established for companies when they discover or have reason to believe a data breach has occurred involving confidential personal information such as credit card numbers.

Reporting requirements have increased for groups that solicit charitable donations and, if the organization uses telemarketers, background checks are now required.

Child restraints are now mandatory for children age five and under to ride in a car.

A favorite bill of many involved in the legislative process moves the 2016 session start to January instead of the traditional March.

Other interesting bills that consumed a lot of time in committees and on the floor, and that also passed this year, include legalizing low-THC marijuana to treat epilepsy and cancer patients and a bill to allow students in the country illegally to pay in-state tuition at the state’s public colleges and universities

Bills that failed

Efforts to change Florida’s gambling laws and craft-beer regulations, and reform of the state and local government pension systems did not pass during the 2014 legislative session.

In addition, attempts to prohibit an employer from using credit history to deny employment or inquiring about an applicant’s criminal record on an initial application were defeated this year, as was a push to increase the state minimum wage to the federal proposal of $10.10.

Florida’s budget

The final numbers for the state budget came in at $77.1 billion, including $11 million in pay increases to law enforcement and $10.9 million in pay increases to assistant state attorneys and public defenders. There was also $20 billion allotted for education funding, $10.1 billion for transportation funding, and no tuition increases for university students.

The governor must still approve the budget and has the authority to line-item veto funding if he chooses.

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For more information about these bills or any others from the 2014 session, please contact Joanna Bonfanti, a government affairs consultant in Gunster’s Tallahassee office. It’s not too soon to start planning for your 2015 business needs.

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This publication is for general information only. It is not legal advice, and legal counsel should be contacted before any action is taken that might be influenced by this publication.

Gunster, Florida’s law firm for business, provides full-service legal counsel to leading organizations and individuals from its 11 offices statewide. Established in 1925, the firm has expanded, diversified and evolved, but always with a singular focus: Florida and its clients’ stake in it. A magnet for business-savvy attorneys who embrace collaboration for the greatest advantage of clients, Gunster’s growth has not been at the expense of personalized service but because of it. The firm serves clients from its offices in Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach, Stuart, Tallahassee, Tampa, The Florida Keys, Vero Beach and its headquarters in West Palm Beach. With more than 160 attorneys and 200 committed support staff, Gunster is ranked among the National Law Journal’s list of the 350 largest law firms. More information about its practice areas, offices and insider’s view newsletters is available at www.gunster.com.

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