Advertisement
  1. Gradebook

New Florida law granting amnesty to underage drinkers takes effect July 1

Lawmakers and education officials say the legislation will save lives.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis [CHRIS URSO | Times]
Published Jun. 11

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Friday that will protect young people from legal penalties if they are drinking underage and call for medical help.

The bill, HB 595, was sponsored by two lawmakers, including Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg. It expands a law created in 2012 that pardons those who call 911 to help someone who has overdosed on drugs.

“Public safety is paramount and it’s critical our young men and women get the medical attention they need in an emergency,” DeSantis said in a news release by the Florida Board of Governors. “This bill helps ensure our young people on campuses will proactively seek medical help for their peers in emergency situations.”

The legislation was a priority for the Board of Governors, which oversees the state’s public universities, the release said. It cited information from the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs that shows alcohol-related deaths are rising among 18- to 24-year-olds.

Board Chairman Ned Lautenbach created a student safety task force focused on drugs, alcohol and mental health to help combat the problem last year. Its work is aimed at encouraging responsible choices and ensuring students feel safe enough to reach out for help when they need it.

“This law is a big step toward removing barriers that might prevent someone from calling to save a life,” Lautenbach said in the news release.

State Rep. David Silvers, the second sponsor of the bill, said it’s important that the state gets the word out to students about the new law, adding: “Fear of getting in trouble should never be a reason that someone doesn’t make that life-saving phone call.”

Florida Student Association president Jalisa White praised the work of lawmakers, thanking them for getting the bill to DeSantis’ desk.

“If this law can save even one life, then it will be worth it," she said in the release.

Contact Megan Reeves at mreeves@tampabay.com. Follow @mareevs.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Students and community activists marched in Tampa last year after the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The attack killed 17 people and gave rise to Florida’s school guardian law, which this year was changed to allow classroom teachers to be armed. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the measure into law. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
    Damien Kelly, the director of the Office of Safe Schools, told lawmakers that 11 districts have said they would like the option to arm instructional staff, but it wasn’t clear if all 11 had...
  2. Pasco High School's state grade for 2019 remains an "incomplete," with state officials finding not enough students were tested.
    A fourth has its request rejected, leaving it with an “incomplete” mark.
  3. The USF St. Petersburg Campus, Thursday, June 19, 2014.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  4. A view of the student center at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, where opposition is mounting over a plan to consolidate USF's three campuses. Some state lawmakers are opposed to parts of it that would concentrate authority over academic decisions in Tampa. CHRIS URSO   |   TIMES  |
    They say the proposal by USF president Steve Currall conflicts with a new Florida law by giving too much authority to the Tampa campus.
  5. Wreckage left behind by Hurricane Michael. News Service of Florida
    Entire school systems are still recovering from long-standing damage and dealing with the disruptive aftermath of the storm.
  6. The National Merit Scholarship program has announced the names of semifinalists for scholarships to be offered in the spring.
    These students are among the top 1 percent of high school seniors in the nation.
  7. Florida schools increasingly are monitoring students' social media for potential threats.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  8. Sally Harris said she has more to accomplish and is mounting a return campaign for the Hillsborough County School Board. [Times | 2014]
    Three people have filed so far for the seat now held by Lynn Gray.
  9. The DeLucio family of Trinity toured the Mitchell High School campus and showed the visit on their YouTube channel, which has more than 1 million subscribers. Many parents, students and school officials were not amused. YouTube
    If approved, a new policy would take effect in early October.
  10. The Hillsborough County School Board holds a workshop in June 2019. Tampa Bay Times
    The chairwoman looks for ways to keep comments private, while the board asks for more input on key issues like its superintendent search.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement