Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday signed 26 bills into law, adding protections for clergy who refuse to marry gay couples and authorizing the replacement of one of Florida’s statues in the U.S. Capitol.
The Pastor Protection Act, which Scott already said he planned to sign, will give churches and clergy immunity from litigation if they deny a marriage they don’t support on religious grounds. The measure was pushed by religious groups in the wake of same-sex marriage being legalized statewide.
Florida will also move forward in the process to replace a statue of Edmund Kirby Smith, a Confederate general, one of just two Floridians representing the state in National Statuary Hall in Washington.
A disabled veteran’s complaint after being denied free parking at Tampa International Airport triggered a law granting free parking at public airports to vehicles with a Disabled Veterans or a Paralyzed Veterans of America designation.
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Other new laws will:
▪ Open up professional guardians of the elderly to greater regulation.
▪ Allow minors to have their criminal records sealed earlier, part of a broader push in the Legislature to “decriminalize adolescence,” in the words of Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart.
▪ Prohibit the State Board of Administration from investing in companies that boycott Israel.
▪ Replace the term “absentee ballot” with the term “vote-by-mail ballot” in Florida statutes.
▪ Allow individuals unable to perform jury duty for physical reasons to be permanently excluded upon request.