TALLAHASSEE — Florida became the latest Republican-controlled state to pass new restrictions on abortion on Friday as Gov. Rick Scott signed 94 bills covering a wide range of topics.
House Bill 1047 bans abortions once a fetus is considered viable, which is typically at 23 weeks of gestation. The new law, which passed with a partisan vote in the Legislature, replaces Florida's existing ban on abortions starting in the third trimester, which is about two weeks after the new standard.
The shorter time frame for a legal abortion puts women's lives at greater risk if they're experiencing complications from pregnancies, said Dr. Sujatha Prabhakaran of Planned Parenthood.
"By signing this bill into law, Gov. Rick Scott is taking Florida two steps backwards," Prabhakaran said in a statement. "This law limits health exceptions and could risk women's health and lives."
Scott spokesman John Tupps wrote in a statement: "Governor Scott is pro-life and was glad to sign this bill that protects the lives of children."
It's likely the measure will have more symbolic than practical impact. According to state figures, 90 percent of all Florida abortions occur in the first trimester, and only 10 percent in the second trimester. It's not known how many are done at the very end of the second trimester — the period in question.
But any effort to limit abortion is bound to appeal to conservative voters. The new law is part of a wave of additional abortion restrictions in Republican-controlled states. On Thursday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law new rules including a requirement that doctors who perform abortions must be able to admit patients to a hospital within 30 miles of where the procedure is performed. Requiring abortion doctors to have nearby admitting privileges will close at least three of that state's five abortion clinics, say abortion-rights groups.
Last year, 22 Republican-controlled states adopted 70 different restrictions on abortion, and Texas followed suit earlier this year.
HB 1047 was by far the most controversial of the batch Scott signed Friday. Other noteworthy measures that will become law involve charities, electronic cigarettes, parasailing and nursing homes.
Pushed by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who oversees charitable solicitations in Florida, HB 629 bans charitable groups that have violated certain laws in other states from doing business here. Under the new law, paid telemarketers hired by charities will have to undergo background checks. Charities collecting more than $1 million a year, but spending less than 25 percent of the money on their stated cause, must make detailed reports to the state, including family relationships among board members.
Last year, the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting published a series of stories called "America's Worst Charities" that exposed deceptive nonprofit organizations that raised money for private gain unrelated to their purported causes.
"Recent reports of fraud and deception among charities in Florida severely damaged our state's reputation of goodwill," Putnam said in a Friday statement. "This law will weed out the bad actors who are defrauding generous givers and thus bring integrity back to Florida's network of reputable charities."
With SB 224, Scott entered the debate over electronic cigarettes, siding with those who warn that the devices lead to tobacco addiction. Though advocates say the devices are safer than conventional cigarettes, critics say that doesn't mean they actually are harmless, particularly for the young. The new law bans the sales of "e-cigarettes" to minors, just as sales of other tobacco products to youths are restricted.
Scott also signed SB 320, which aims to better regulate the parasailing industry. Between 1982 and 2012, 73 people died and 431 were injured nationwide in parasailing accidents, including several in Pinellas County. The new law would require commercial parasail operators to have $1 million in liability insurance and be licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard to carry passengers.
"This law will hopefully prevent parasailing tragedies such as we've seen," said Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, a sponsor of the bill.
Scott signed two bills that make investing in nursing homes more attractive. Opposed by elder advocates and Tampa trial lawyer Jim Wilkes, SB 670 shields investors in Florida nursing homes from lawsuits when residents are abused or neglected, while making it harder for plaintiffs to collect punitive damages. HB 287 repeals a moratorium on adding nursing home beds put in place in 2001 to control Medicaid costs.
Other bills signed Friday include:
• SB 450 adds unsolicited text messages to the state's "Do Not Call" program barring sales calls to people who sign up for the program.
• HB 9 starts the annual legislative session in January in 2016, about two months earlier than its regular start date, allowing lawmakers to raise money earlier for reelection campaigns.
• HB 635 allows Clerks of Courts to audit backgrounds of court-appointed guardians.
• SB 542 aims to make it easier for private companies to sell flood insurance in the state as a way to curb rising premiums.
• SB 708 provides homeowners a one-page bill of rights when they file insurance claims, a measure pushed by Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater as a way to improve transparency for policyholders.
Michael Van Sickler can be reached at email@example.com.
News Service of Florida
Here are the bills Gov. Scott signed on Friday.
HB 9 Legislature: This bill requires the 2016 Regular Session of the Legislature to convene on Jan. 12, 2016.
HB 47 Spiny Lobster: This bill relates to offenses regarding spiny lobsters.
SB 86 Dentists: This bill relates to licensed dentists and covered services.
HB 97 Access to Health Care for the Underserved: This bill relates to those receiving dentist or dental hygienist services.
SB 224 Tobacco and Nicotine Product Regulation: This bill relates to the sale of electronic cigarettes and other alternative tobacco products.
SB 242 Security of a Protected Consumer's Information: This bill protects the personal information of consumers younger than 16 years old or individuals represented by a guardian or other advocate.
SB 256 Public Records/Forensic Behavioral Health Evaluation: This bill relates to the public records requirements for a forensic behavioral health evaluation.
HB 271 Workers' Compensation: This bill relates to the Department of Financial Services.
HB 287 Certificates of Need: This bill relates to the certificate of need statutes for nursing homes.
HB 291 Warranty Associations: This bill relates to financial requirements for service warranty insurers.
SB 272 Water Utilities: This bill creates a process for customers to petition the PSC to examine service quality issues.
SB 308 Public Assistance Fraud: This bill relates to Department of Financial Services investigations into public assistance fraud.
SB 320 Commercial and Recreational Water Activities: This bill relates to parasailing.
HB 321 Title Insurance: This bill relates to the financial condition of title insurers.
HB 323 Pharmacy: This bill allows authorized pharmacists to supervise more than one pharmacy technician.
HB 325 Brownfields: This bill relates to brownfield areas.
SB 356 Regulation of Public Lodging Establishments and Public Food Service Establishments: This bill relates to regulation of vacation rentals.
SB 390 Public Records/Identifying Information of Personnel of Department of Health: This bill relates to records and the Department of Health.
SB 404 Professional Geology: This bill relates to exam certification for professional geologist licensure.
HB 405 Trusts: This bill relates to liability and excluded trustees.
HB 413 Consumer Collection Practices: This bill relates to third-party debt collectors.
HB 415 Public Records/Investigations & Examinations by Office of Financial Regulation: This bill relates to records and consumer collection agency information.
SB 440 Condominiums: This bill updates the Florida Condominium Act.
SB 450 Telephone Solicitation: This bill relates to Florida's "Do Not Call Program."
SB 490 Motor Vehicle Liability Policy Requirements: The bill relates to certain motor vehicle insurance policies.
SB 506 OGSR/Florida Insurance Guaranty Association: This bill relates to records and the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association.
HB 511 Cancer Control and Research: This bill revises the Florida Cancer Control and Research Advisory Council.
HB 515 Public Assistance Fraud: This bill provides enhanced penalties for those who commit public assistance fraud.
SB 520 Public Records/Dental Workforce Surveys: This bill relates to records and dentists or dental hygienists.
HB 531 Public Health Trusts: This bill relates to office space leasing by public health trusts.
SB 536 Reclaimed Water: This bill requires a study on the benefits of reclaimed water.
SB 542 Flood Insurance: This bill relates to admitted insurers and flood insurance.
SB 590 Money Services Businesses: This bill relates to money services.
HB 591 Newborn Health Screening: This bill relates to infants or toddlers diagnosed with a permanent hearing impairment.
HB 629 Charities: This bill relates to Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and charitable organizations.
HB 633 Division of Insurance Agents & Agency Services: This bill relates to the Division of Agent and Agency Services.
HB 635 Guardianship: This bill relates to Florida's guardianship law.
SB 650 OGSR/Inventories of an Estate or Elective Estate: This bill relates to an inventory of an estate or elective estate or an accounting in an estate proceeding.
SB 670 Nursing Home Litigation: This bill relates to nursing home resident litigation against a licensee or management company.
SB 674 Background Screening: This bill revises criminal background screening statutes.
SB 702 Pharmacy Audits: This bill relates to rights of a pharmacy when audited.
SB 708 Insurance Claims: The bill creates the "Homeowner Bill of Rights."
HB 713 Engineers: This bill relates to qualifications of members of the Board of Professional Engineers.
HB 731 POW-MIA Chair of Honor Memorial: This bill establishes the Prisoners of War-Missing in Action (POW-MIA) Chair of Honor Memorial in the Capitol Complex.
HB 757 Estates: This bill amends estate law for consistency between the Trust Code and the Probate Code.
SB 762 Family Care Councils: This bill relates to Family Care Councils.
HB 773 Pugilistic Exhibitions: This bill relates to Florida Boxing Commission regarding professional and amateur boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts.
HB 775 Public Records/Florida State Boxing Commission: This bill relates to the Florida State Boxing Commission.
HB 783 Motor Vehicle Sales: This bill relates to financing or fees relating to motor vehicle sales.
HB 785 Workers' Compensation: The bill relates to workers' compensation.
SB 796 Public Accountancy: This bill relates to requirements of certified public accountant applicants.
HB 805 Title Insurer Reserves: The bill relates to title insurers.
HB 807 Residential Properties: This bill relates to condominium, cooperatives and homeowners' association laws.
HB 811 Foreign Investments: This bill relates to the Protecting Florida's Investment Act.
SB 836 Medical Gas: This bill relates to medical gasses.
HB 929 Little Gasparilla Island, Charlotte County: This bill relates to Little Gasparilla Island in Placida Harbor.
HB 953 State Contracting: This bill relates to contracts with state agencies.
HB 955 Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: This bill relates to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
SB 1010 Cable and Video Services: This bill relates to obsolete reports.
SB 1012 Financial Services: This bill relates to financial institutions, the Office of Financial Regulation and federal laws.
SB 1036 Nursing Education Programs: The bill relates to nursing education programs.
HB 1047 Termination of Pregnancies: This bill relates to doctors' determination of the viability of a fetus.
HB 1049 Divers: This bill relates to divers and diving areas.
HB 1065 Licensed Massage Therapists: The bill relates to massage therapists, owners and managers.
SB 1070 Fuel Terminals: This bill relates to local governments and fuel terminals.
HB 1089 Citizens Property Insurance Corporation: This bill relates to coverage by Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.
SB 1108 OGSR/Children of Agency Officers and Employees/Identifying Information: This bill relates to records and children of state employees.
HB 1131 Emergency Allergy Treatment: This bill relates to the Emergency Allergy Treatment Act.
SB 1142 Ticket Sales: This bill relates to penalties for counterfeiting or possessing amusement park tickets with the intent of fraud.
HB 1179 Home Health Care: This bill relates to nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistant and home health aides.
SB 1194 Citizen Support & Direct-support Organizations: This bill relates to citizen support organization and direct support organizations.
SB 1238 Family Trust Companies: This bill relates to private trust companies.
SB 1262 Public Records and Meetings/Insurance Flood Loss Model: This bill relates to the design and construction of flood insurance loss models.
SB 1278 Public Records/Office of Financial Regulation: This bill relates to records and Office of Financial Regulation.
SB 1300 Public Records/Office of Insurance Regulation: This bill relates to records and regulation of an insurer's solvency.
SB 1308 Insurer Solvency: This bill relates to solvency requirements and regulatory oversight of insurers by the Office of Insurance Regulation.
SB 1320 Public Records/Office of Financial Regulation: This bill relates to records and Office of Financial Regulation.
SB 1344 Insurance: This bill relates to the Florida Medical Malpractice Joint Underwriting Association.
HB 1363 Vessel Safety: This bill relates to the removal of derelict vessels from public waterways.
HB 1385 Inspectors General: This bill relates to the Chief Inspector General and agency inspectors general.
SB 1672 Property Insurance: This bill relates to Citizens Property Insurance Corporation policies.
SB 1678 OGSR/Agency Personnel Information: This bill relates to records and agency employees.
HB 7009 Security for Public Deposits: This bill relates to the Florida Security for Public Deposits Act.
HB 7037 Residential Communities: This bill relates to community association managers and lien and delinquent assessment forms.
HB 7051 Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: This bill relates to activities within Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
HB 7077 Nonresident Sterile Compounding Permits: This bill relates to compounded sterile products.
HB 7089 Ratification of Rules/Department of Environmental Protection: This bill relates to DEP Rules.
HB 7091 Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: This bill relates to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
HB 7093 Department of Environmental Protection: This bill relates to the Petroleum Restoration Program at DEP.
HB 7097 Ratification of Rules/Office of Insurance Regulation: This bill relates to licensed title insurance agents and insurers.
HB 7145 Ratification of Rules/Department of Health: This bill relates to trauma centers in Florida.
HB 7147 Building Construction Policies: This bill enacts proposals by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
HB 7171 Establishing Minimum Water Flow and Levels for Water Bodies: This bill relates to water flow and levels (MFLs) for certain water bodies.
HB 7177 OGSR/Prescription Drug Monitoring Program: This bill enhances privacy protections for records related to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.