TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed five bills into law Monday, including the controversial so-called anti-rioting bill seen as a targeted attack on free speech.
Four other bills were signed, focused on taxes, trust funds and funding state agency law enforcement radios. Now that each bill has been signed into law, they’ll take effect within 60 days, unless a specific date is named in the law.
Here’s what each of the laws does, now that the governor has signed them:
DeSantis signed HB 1 into law at a 10 a.m. April 19 press conference hosted at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Winter Haven. The law, which has gathered controversy for its provisions, defines a riot, changes law enforcement budgeting policies, adds penalties for crimes committed during riots, and creates a new felony for a newly defined “aggravated riot.”
Supporters of the bill say the legislation clearly draws a line between peaceful protest and violent behavior. Opponents disagree, saying that the law could violate the right of peaceful assembly from the First Amendment.
HB 1 makes it harder for local governments to reduce their law enforcement budgets and lets the state amend it if elected officials challenge the budget change.
The new law also allows local governments to be sued if a riot happens and they fail to stop it, and creating the potential for a civil liability for damages leveled at the governing body.
In the final hours of April 19, DeSantis signed four other laws into effect shortly before midnight. One of those laws focused on collecting tax revenue from online retail sales.
Starting July 1, SB 50, also known as the Park Randall ‘Randy’ Miller Act, revises what the state defines a retail sale as. Now, the state includes sales from online marketplaces in its definition of retail sales by amending the definition in Florida Statute.
The law makes it so businesses that made more than $100,000 in revenue through online sales of “real property” will be required to collect sales taxes the products that are then shipped to Florida customers.
The added tax to online shopping is expected to add about $1 billion in revenue each year to the state starting in Fiscal Year 2022. Portions of that revenue will be directed into the state’s Unemployment Compensation Fund in July, August, and September each year, beginning in 2021.
One of the other laws signed by DeSantis on April 19 is designed to fund the radio maintenance needs of state law enforcement agencies through July 2026.
SB 2510, simply put, adds a $3 charge to criminal offenses and noncriminal moving traffic violations to be paid along with any other imposed penalties. The law states that the money collected from the $3 surcharge will be remitted or transferred to the Florida Department of Revenue.
Basically, the additional $3 per offense or noncriminal traffic violation will be used to fund law enforcement communication systems regionally for state and local agencies through July 1, 2026. The law changes the current statute to extend from the previous end in July 2021.
Money collected through for this program will be delivered to a trust fund set up for the radio systems and maintained by the Florida Department of Management Services on a quarterly basis. Funds collected will be paid out by counties on a monthly basis.
After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill, clean up costs totaled about $65 billion. A 2015 settlement between BP and the states affected brought funding to Florida and other states.
As a result, the Triumph Gulf Coast Trust Fund within the Department of Economic Opportunity was created in 2017 to deposit the funds received from the Deepwater Horizon settlement between BP and the states affected by the spill, including Florida.
$2 billion was set to be disbursed to the state over 18 years, while an initial payment of $400 million was given to the state. Funds from the settlement are to be paid in yearly installments, and the trust fund is used as a place to receive the payments each year, through 2033.
The trust fund is used to pay for projects focused on economic recovery, diversification, and enhancement in eight Florida counties “disproportionately affected” by the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010.
The passage of SB 7054 re-creates the Triumph Gulf Coast Trust Fund within the DEO without any modifications. The law took immediate effect upon being signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, extending the lie of the trust fund per Florida’s constitutional requirements.
SB 7056 removes the Public Defenders Revenue Trust Fund from the Justice Administrative Commission, the Revolving Trust Fund from the Department of Law Enforcement, the Welfare Transition Trust Fund in the Department of Military Affairs, and the Welfare Transition Trust Fund in the Department of Health.
While the trust funds are terminated, the money from the funds will be transferred to trust funds already established by the state of Florida, and some of the remaining balances will be used to pay outstanding debts or obligations from those funds.
Of the trust funds that will be terminated, some had equivalent other trust funds that were serving the same purpose, making the terminations and fund transfers not having an impact on the services they were intended for.