New Laws in Sight in the Sunshine State

This week marks a big change in Florida’s legislation. 130 new laws produced by the Legislature and signed by Governor Rick Scott will take effect in Florida Blog-picon Wednesday, 1st of July, 2015. Many of these new laws make technical changes to state statutes or have ties to the $78.2 billion spending plan, which also goes into effect July 1. The spending plan is the largest in state history, and includes boosts in funding for public schools, universities and colleges, and the Agency of Persons with Disabilities, for example.

The new laws cover topics ranging from tax cuts and state investments to adoption, education and entertainment. Many of the changes are no doubt of interest to residents of the sunshine state. For many, the most noticeable law change will be a reduced communication services tax, which is applied to cellphone and cable TV bills. It is projected to save $20 a year for those paying $100 a month. Another notable feature is the 10-day sales-tax holiday starting August 7.

Moreover, there are tax cuts on the gun club membership, college textbooks, luxury boat repairs, certain agricultural supplies and services, aviation fuel, and on motor vehicles purchased overseas by internationally deployed service members from Florida. Also, the state’s decades-old ban on gay adoption will no longer be in statutes, law-enforcement agencies can no longer use ticket quotas, nor can drones capture images that could infringe on the privacy of property owners.

There are other nationwide changes going, too, that will have a great impact on workforce. President Obama recently announced that White House will be raising the threshold income level at which workers are exempt from overtime pay of time-and-a-half wages. The current level is $23,3600, which means that a person working 60 hours per week but earning $26,000, for example, would not be eligible for overtime pay. In practice the new proposal means that salaried workers who now earn nearly $1,000 per week would become eligible for overtime pay.

The threshold was last updated in 2004 and has been eroded by inflation. Obama has long argued that the level is too ow and weakens the intent of the overtime law altogether. Under the current threshold, only about 8% of workers are eligible for overtime pay when they work overtime. The estimates indicate that doubling the salary level would make up to 40% of workers eligible.


“We’ve got to keep making sure hard work is rewarded”


The overall impact of the higher threshold would be that many more Americans from fast food and retail to banking and insurance sectors would become eligible for overtime. The rule is especially significant in Florida, where many people have moved into low-to-middle-income service jobs after losing higher paid skilled work in construction and other fields. Employers will soon be compelled to pay many of those people more for working overtime. In fact, it has been estimated that about 370,000 Florida employees will get paid more for working overtime next year when the change is finalized. Critics argue that raising the threshold would become costly and burdensome – on the other hand it would also raise wages for about 5 million people nationwide or even more. The proposal would also be likely to create jobs for hourly workers. According to Obama, “We’ve got to keep making sure hard work is rewarded”. The proposed changes are expected to take months to get finalized but we are on the way there. At least Florida will get its 130 new laws already July 1st.

Sources: CBS, Sun Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, News 4 Jax, CBS Miami & CBS News


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