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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Scott signs landlord-tenant, Villages nursing home bills into law

Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed 34 bills into law, including measures to speed up the foreclosure process and make changes in eviction proceedings for tenants of apartments. Consumer advocates had urged Scott to veto the landlord-tenant bill (HB 77) to no avail, claiming it will make it easier for landlords to evict tenants.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, denied that. Stargel, who manages rental properties, said eviction is a costly and time-consuming process that for most landlords is a last resort.

Also winning Scott's approval was a controversial bill that allows The Villages, the sprawling retirement enclave north of Orlando, to establish a nursing home exempt from a statewide moratorium on construction of new nursing home beds. The developer of the Villages, Gary Morse, is a generous supporter to the Republican Party and GOP candidates. The Villages gave $100,000 to Scott's 2014 re-election campaign and Morse personally contributed $50,000.

Another bill Scott signed represents a compromise between doctors and business groups in the long-running lobbying slugfest over the repackaging of prescription drugs in workers' compensation cases. The compromise (SB 662), sponsored by Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, allows the doctors who hold the repackaging contract to charge 12 percent over the average wholesale price for drugs.

Scott on Friday also signed a bill that extends the maximum interest charge of 30 percent on consumer finance loans up to $3,000. The old law had capped the 30 percent rate on loans of no more than $2,000. The bill (SB 282) was sponsored by Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples.

Two of the bills Scott approved were sponsored by a Democrat, Sen. Joe Abruzzo of Wellington. One bill (SB 964) prohibits a rapist from having any custody rights to a child born as a result of a sexual battery.

Scott also signed a bill sponsored by freshman Rep. Travis Cummings, R-Orange Park, that creates a statewide check cashing database to combat financial fraud. The bill was a priority of Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and requires check cashers to log any checks cashed in excess of $1,000.

[Last modified: Friday, June 7, 2013 5:55pm]

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