Handful of new laws take effect with new year

Six bills from the 2017 legislative session became effective with the arrival of the New Year.

The changes range from eliminating a public-transit commission to streamlining how unmarried and divorced parents agree to time-sharing arrangements for children.

Also with the start of 2018, Florida's minimum wage increased Monday by 15 cents, to $8.25 an hour. That, however, was not tied to legislation. Voters in 2004 passed a constitutional amendment that requires the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to annually calculate the rate based on changes in a federal consumer price index.

The laws taking effect this week were among 234 bills approved in 2017 by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott. Most new laws went into effect July 1, the start of the state's fiscal year.

Here are the laws that just hit the books:

--- HB 647, a local bill that dissolved on Dec. 31 the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, an independent special district. The commission was created to regulate such things as taxis, limousines and wrecker services.

The measure was considered a victory for rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft. Lawmakers during the 2017 session also passed a measure that created statewide regulations for rideshare companies, something the fast-growing industry sought so it wouldn't have to operate under a variety of rules imposed by local governments. The commission's breakup date coincided with the expiration of an agreement with rideshare companies operating in Hillsborough County.

--- SB 590, a bill that makes changes in how Florida handles child time-sharing arrangements between unmarried or divorced parents.

--- HB 435, a bill that revises rules regarding international banking corporations, including issues related to licensure and record-keeping.

--- HB 437, a bill that is tied to HB 435 and creates public-records exemptions involving the Office of Financial Regulation. The exemptions deal with new entities known as “international trust entities” and “qualified limited service affiliates.” It prohibits the Office of Financial Regulation from releasing such things as personal identifying information of customers or shareholders.

--- SB 800, a bill that requires health insurers and health maintenance organizations to offer “medication synchronization” to customers at least once a year. Under medication synchronization, customers are able to align refill dates of prescriptions.

--- HB 911, a bill that makes a series of changes related to rules and licensure for public insurance adjusters.

Lawmakers had approved a seventh bill slated to go into effect with the New Year. That bill would have required warning labels on state Lottery games. But Scott vetoed the measure (HB 937) for imposing “burdensome regulations” on the games and retailers. The bill was one of 11 Scott vetoed last year.