If you see a helpless dog or baby or senior citizen trapped in a car in the heat, you could break in to rescue them -- assuming a bill in the Legislature for the winter 2016 session passes.
The proposal (HB 131) would allow any passerby to use a minimal amount of force to rescue children, pets, the elderly and disabled adults if they feel the individual could be in danger and they call 911 before doing so. It would provide immunity from being sued.
House Majority Leader Dana Young, R-Tampa, filed the legislation, an unusual step for the majority leader. Last year, she filed one bill to legalize beer growlers -- her pet project -- and a handful for high-profile gambling reform.
In a statement released to the press Thursday, she said she was inspired to file the "Good Samaritan Act" by the high rate of death among children and pets trapped in cars under the hot Florida sun.
“Florida has the second highest rate of child vehicular heatstroke deaths in the nation,” Young said. “The time has come to empower ordinary citizens to come forward and help prevent these senseless tragedies.”
Similar legislation (SB 200) that would make locking an animal in a hot car a first-degree misdemeanor and allow law enforcement and first responders to break in and rescue a pet has been filed by Sen. Dorothy Hukill. It doesn't appear that Young's bill has been filed in previous legislative sessions.
Of course, there's an easy solution here -- one that could make someone less likely to break into your car if Young's bill passes -- and that's to not lock the people and animals you're responsible for in a hot car.