TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Rick Scott, who promised jobs and used the campaign slogan “Let’s Get to Work” last year, signed a new law Tuesday that will help former felons get to work.
The measure was among 46 bills Scott signed into law including a measure that reduces penalties for minors caught “sexting” explicit images.
Some of the other bills will make fighting dogs more adoptable, crack down on credit and debit card theft and change the way funds are distributed from the sale of “Choose Life” auto tags that are popular among abortion opponents.
The jobs bill (SB 146) will let ex-convicts obtain licenses and other governmental permits they need to hold down jobs without waiting to get their voting and other civil rights restored.
Scott and the Florida Cabinet recently made that wait longer for many by halting the automatic restoration of rights for nonviolent offenders. Now they’ll have to wait at least five years after being released, just like violent offenders, before asking to have their rights restored.
They then must get the governor’s approval as well as the votes of two of the three Cabinet members when they meet, usually four times a year, as the Board of Executive Clemency.
Separating civil rights restoration from employment permitting is a longtime goal of civil rights advocates, who say former felons will be less likely to return to crime if they can get a job.
Minors who electronically transmitted sexually explicit images, often of themselves, used to face possible conviction on child pornography charges and being required to register with the state as sex offenders.
The new law (HB 75) would make a first sexting violation a non-criminal offense. A second violation would be misdemeanor and a third a felony.
Animals trained or used for dog fighting no longer will be classified as dangerous under another new law (SB 722). Existing law puts special requirements on dangerous dogs. That includes registering the dogs and confining them in securely fenced areas posted with warning signs.
The new law also will let shelters adopt out dogs without informing their new owners of their fighting history. The legislation’s supporters said the dogs still must be evaluated for safety before being adopted.
The card law (HB 339) makes possessing a stolen credit or debit card with the intent to sell or use it a third-degree felony. That could result in up to five years in prison. Previously it had been a misdemeanor.
The license plate law (HB 501) will let a private organization, Choose Life Inc., spend up to 15 percent of proceeds from the Choose Life tags for administration and promotion. Previously all funds had to be used to facilitate adoption.
The organization still must direct adoption funds back to the counties that generated those dollars, but now it will be able to spend any cash that a county is unable to use within 100 miles.