New Florida laws go into effect Sunday

Dec 31, 2011

The following article was published in the Fort Myers News-Press on December 31, 2011:

New Florida Laws Go Into Effect on Sunday

There are new laws and other changes that go into effect Sunday.

MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE: The Florida minimum wage goes up to $7.67 per hour. Florida law requires the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to calculate a minimum wage rate each year based on the percentage increase in the federal Consumer Price Index. That’s 36 cents higher than the rate of $7.31 and above the national minimum wage of $7.25.

WORKERS COMPENSATION HIKE: Businesses will face an 8.9 percent increase in workers compensation insurance rates, which was approved by state regulators earlier this year.

UNEMPLOYMENT MAXIMUM CHANGES: Florida’s 26-week maximum unemployment benefit period changes to a sliding scale that ranges from 12 weeks to 23 weeks, depending on the unemployment rate. The duration will be calculated based on the average unemployment rate in Florida for July, August and September 2011. The Department of Economic Opportunity says the change is projected to save the state’s Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund an estimated $103 million annually.

SCHOOL NUTRITION MOVES TO AGRICULTURE: The state’s school and food nutrition program will be part of the state Agriculture Department. The program’s 45 full-time employees will move to the agriculture agency.

NO MORE HAMMERHEAD FISHING: The recreational and commercial harvest of tiger sharks and smooth, scalloped and great hammerhead sharks will be prohibited in Florida state waters. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved the management change at its Nov. 16 meeting. The rule change came with no instructions on just how you safely throw back a great hammerhead shark.

TOUGHER TATTOOING LAWS: Tattoo artists will need to be licensed. It will include taking a test.

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