New year, new laws.
The state of Florida will ring in some new measures in 2019, including a higher minimum wage and a new federal alimony law. Here’s a look at key laws and proposed measures that are set to take effect this year.
MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE
It's not $15 per hour, but the state will still see a significant minimum wage increase in 2019.
According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the minimum wage will rise to $8.46 per hour on Jan. 1, 2019. That’s a 21 cent increase from the previous minimum wage of $8.25. It's the biggest minimum wage increase since 2012, officials say.
The minimum wage for tipped employees is also set to increase from $5.23 to $5.44 per hour.
HOSPITALS MAKING PRICES PUBLIC
A new federal measure will require all U.S. hospitals to post their prices for services online. This includes standard charges for drugs, biologicals, and other items and services, as well as keeping those costs updated, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
RESTORING VOTING RIGHTS TO FELONS
In November 2018, voters approved Amendment 4, which states most felons will automatically have their voting rights restored when they complete their sentences. The amendment does not apply to those convicted of sex offenses and murder. While the law is slated to take effect on January 8, there is some debate as to whether this will actually happen.
Republican Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis suggested recently that the amendment will not take effect until the Florida Legislature passes a bill to put it into effect. County supervisors of elections, however, say they will accept voter registration applications and it will be up to the state to determine if the applicants are ineligible.
LIMIT PROPERTY TAX
Voters also approved Amendment 2 in November, which places a 10-percent cap on annual increases in assessments of properties that don’t qualify for homestead exemption. Before this proposal, the tax cap would have expired and higher assessments would have been possible.
LOWER WORKERS' COMPENSATION INSURANCE RATES
The Tampa Bay Times reports that regulators have approved a 13.8 percent decrease in workers’ compensation rates this year. In 2018, the average rate was 9.8 percent.
FEDERAL ALIMONY LAW
Alimony will not be tax-deductible by the spouse making those payments starting Jan. 1, according to USA Today. The publication reported that taxes will rise significantly for the spouse making alimony.
MSD PUBLIC SAFETY COMMISSION RELEASES REPORT
The commission set up to determine what happened before and during the attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — and recommend ways to prevent future similar attacks — approved its initial report on Wednesday and is sending it to Florida's governor and legislature.
Recommendations include providing real-time surveillance camera access to law enforcement and expanding the law that allows some school staff be screened and trained to possess firearms on campus.