Make us your home page

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Crackdown on gas-station skimmers among 14 bills Gov. Rick Scott signs into law



Thieves who steal customer information using skimming devices at gas station pumps will face stiffer penalties under one of 14 new laws Gov. Rick Scott signed today.

SB 912 also requires gas stations to use certain security measures to better thwart criminals' attempts to install "skimmer" devices, which steal credit and debit card information.

The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, and House Majority Leader Dana Young, R-Tampa, with support from state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regularly inspects the state's nearly 8,000 gas stations and has found more than 190 skimmers since the start of 2015, Putnam's office said in early March.

About 100 consumers are victimized by each skimmer, resulting in $1,000 stolen from each victim on average. Each skimmer represents an estimated $100,000 threat to consumers, Putnam's office said.

Also signed into law today were additions to the list of acceptable forms of ID that Florida voters can use at the polls on Election Day or to request absentee ballots in advance.

More than 1.5 million people with concealed-weapons permits can now use that license as proper ID to vote. Also now acceptable voter IDs under SB 666: veteran health ID cards and employee IDs issued by local, state or federal government agencies.

Scott also approved SB 1044, which revises Florida's forfeiture laws. Police won't be allowed to seize property involved in a crime without making an arrest and charging someone.

It's an early victory in an effort by civil libertarians to scale back a practice called "civil asset forfeiture," in which law enforcement seize contraband -- for example, a car used to transport drugs -- sometimes never returning it, even without a criminal conviction.

"Today is a major win for liberty in the Sunshine State," the law's sponsor Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, wrote in a statement posted to Facebook. "Florida is once again taking a leadership role in the defense of private property rights, and other states should look to our work and enact similar reforms to protect the rights of their residents."

Here are the other 11 new laws Scott approved:

SB 812   Reciprocal Insurers – This bill creates an alternative process for a domestic reciprocal insurer to distribute unassigned funds to policyholders.

SB 826   Mobile Homes – This bill revises provisions relating to mobile home park tenants and owners.

SB 828   Insurance Guaranty Association Assessments – This bill revises the assessment process for the Florida Workers’ Compensation Insurance Guaranty Association.

SB 846   Divers-Down Warning Devices – This bill expands the types of signal devices used by divers.

SB 854   Funeral, Cemetery, and Consumer Services – This bill revises provisions within the funeral, cemetery, and consumer services code.

SB 922   Solid Waste Management – This bill revises solid waste management programs within the Department of Environmental Protection.

SB 936   Persons with Disabilities – This bill protects individuals with autism or an autism spectrum disorder during encounters with law enforcement.

SB 938   The Retail Sale of Dextromethorphan – This bill prohibits the sale of products containing dextromethorphan to minors.

SB 964   The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program – This bill exempts nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and rehabilitative hospitals from reporting certain information to the prescription drug monitoring program.

SB 1004   Security System Plans – This bill revises public records exemptions related to government agencies’ security systems.

SB 1104   Service of Process on Financial Institutions – This bill authorizes financial institutions to establish a sole location or agent for receipt of service of process.

-- with reporting from Herald/Times reporter Michael Auslen

[Last modified: Friday, April 1, 2016 2:03pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours