Few New Laws Come In With New Year

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Some children could travel with more protection in 2015 as a new law about child car seats takes effect Thursday.

Overall, the start of 2015 will be quiet for new laws in Florida. Lawmakers sent 255 bills to Gov. Rick Scott after passage during the 2014 legislative session, but only three take effect Thursday. The majority of the new laws, 158 of them, went into place July 1.

Florida residents and businesses, however, will see other changes with the start of the new year. As an example, the state’s minimum wage will increase from $7.93 to $8.05 an hour, thanks to a 2004 constitutional amendment that leads to annual adjustments. Also, employers will see an overall 5.2 percent decrease in workers-compensation insurance rates.

The new law getting the most attention this week will require children through age 5 to be placed in car seats or booster seats while riding in vehicles. Currently, children ages 3 and younger are required to ride in the child-restraint devices, while children ages 4 and 5 can use seat belts, according to a House bill analysis.

AAA Auto Club supported the change, although the organization recommends that booster seats continue to be used until children reach 4 feet 9 inches tall.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the use of a 5-point harness until the child is 40 lbs,” AAA spokeswoman Karen Morgan said in a release. “Age should not be a determining factor.”

People charged with violating the law (HB 225) face $60 fines and three points on their driver’s licenses. The law includes exceptions such as when a driver is unpaid and is not a member or a child’s immediate family or when a child is being transported because of a medical emergency.

Another new law (SB 404) set new rules for geologists. The measure includes requirements for registering as what is known as a “geologist in training.” That would include taking part of the exam for licensure as a professional geologist and meeting educational requirements.

The third new law (HB 343) involves a $1 surcharge on the use of car-sharing services. That will be instead of the state’s $2-a-day rental-car surcharge. The $1 surcharge will apply when a member of a car-sharing service uses a vehicle for less than 24 hours, according to a House staff analysis.

This report is by Jim Turner with The News Service of Florida.

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