Some 400 to 500 state workers are expected to lose their jobs as a result of cuts from the state's new $39-billion budget that goes into effect today.
One of the hardest hit agencies was the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. More than 100 driver's license examiners and other staff lost their jobs. Many hoped to land another state job.
Legislators made the cuts to find more money to pay for new prisons while at the same time avoiding a tax increase.
Some the most-disputed layoffs involved 35 radio operators and support personnel for the Florida Highway Patrol. The cuts happened when the FHP had to consolidate radio dispatching from 43 to 29 stations statewide.
FHP officials said the change won't affect communications and motorists won't notice a difference. A troopers' association said "dead spots" in the patrol's radio system could make some law officers vulnerable in the event of an emergency.
Other new laws that go into effect today:
Streamline the process for victims whose spouses violate court injunctions and expands the definition of domestic violence to include aggravated assault, aggravated battery, stalking and aggravated stalking.
Require drunken drivers spend more time behind bars and impose tougher driver's license suspensions. Anyone convicted a second time of driving under the influence within a five-year period must serve 48 hours of a 10-day mandatory jail sentence consecutively.
Impose harsher penalties on anyone charged with deliberately abusing or neglecting an elderly person or disabled adult faces a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, instead of a first-degree misdemeanor.
to change jobs
MIAMI _ A 37-year-old prostitute who was bound and gagged in the apartment of a man later charged with killing six other prostitutes says she is going to change her line of work.
"I've thought a lot about what happened, and I've decided to leave this way of life," said the woman.
Police on Monday charged Rory Enrique Conde, 30, with six counts of first-degree murder and with raping the woman.
The prostitute who survived the June 19 attack said that once Conde got her to his apartment, he sprayed her face with chemical Mace. She said he tied up her hands and feet, wrapped her head with masking tape that left only her eyes and nose uncovered, and then raped her twice.
She said she managed to free herself while Conde was gone.
She set off the burglar alarm, opened the front door and found a locked gate over the doorway that prevented her escape. Neighbors heard her shouts and called police.
AGENTS ARREST 287 ALIENS: U.S. Border Patrol agents said Friday they had arrested 287 illegal aliens this week in the Florida Panhandle as part of a Southeast sweep that has netted more than 2,100 arrests. The Panhandle arrests included five working for a contractor at Eglin Air Force Base and one man charged with smuggling illegal immigrants.
TRANSIENT WINS $600,000 FROM CSX: A jury has ordered a railroad to pay nearly $600,000 to 56-year-old transient Pedro Durran, who was run over by a train as he lay unconscious on the tracks after a bout of drinking.
MORE POLAR BEARS COMING TO SEA WORLD: Klondike and Snow, the polar bear cubs abandoned by their mother and raised by Denver Zoo officials, are moving to to Sea World in Orlando, the zoo announced Friday.
SNOW LEOPARD FOUND: A snow leopard missing since Saturday in Golden Gate near Naples was found Friday by trapper will receive a $5,000 reward.
_ Compiled from wire reports