New Florida Laws for 2022

New Florida Laws for 2022

New Florida Laws 2022A number of new laws go into effect on January 1, 2022, according to the Florida Bar. The laws include online notarization a legal publication law, changes to workers’ compensation insurance rates, and other approved legislation.

HB 121 – Notary Publics

This law was unanimously approved on April 8, 20201. It was introduced by Representative Sam Garrison from Orange Park and signed by Governor Ron DeSantis on June 21, 2021.  The legislation revises another Florida law that authorized remote legislation.  HB 121 proves that court reports can remotely swear-in witnesses and new members of the Florida Bar Association through “audio-visual technology.”

The new law also makes clear that – if the online notary personally knows the person who is seeking the notary authorization – that person (the principal) does not need to satisfy a “knowledge-based authentication and credential analysis.”  Most of the new law applies to Remote Online Notary (RON) platforms. The law requires that the remote online notaries store videos of their notary sessions.

Another part of the new law provides that remote online notaries certify, on a yearly basis to the Florida Department of State, that they comply with Florida law. The Florida Department of State must include a list of remote online notary service providers on the agency’s website.

The new remote notary law removes the “requirement that foreign passports bear a U.S. stamp when performing an online notarization of a principal not located within the U.S.”

HB 35 – Legal notice printing requirement in local newspapers

Another Florida law that takes effect on January 1, 2022, was introduced by Representative Randy Fine, approved on April 29, 2021, by a 105-9 vote, and signed by Governor DeSantis on May 7, 2021. The new legislation changes a long-term provision of Florida law that necessitated printing legal notices in local newspapers. Congressman Fine had argued that the requirement was no longer necessary and that local governments “shouldn’t be forced to subsidize a struggling industry.” He drew an analogy to the time when communications were sent by telegram.

Some independent publishers of local newspapers argued that the print notices helped generate millions of badly needed advertising revenue. These newspapers argued that without the revenue, many newspapers would have to cease operations. In addition, the Florida Press Association and former Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp (on behalf of the American Lawyer Medica Group) asserted that low-income residents and minorities (who couldn’t afford to access the notices through online, instead of print, publications) would not be informed of critical government notices such as special elections and tax increases.

The legislation that was approved was a compromise that “expands state law to require legal notices to be published online and printed in local newspapers.” Local governments, according to Congressman Fine, can continue printing publishing the legal notices in print but they can also post the notices online – on a qualified newspaper’s website and on a Florida Press Association legal notice website.

The new law also allows newspaper publishers to charge the same amount for posting online notices as they charge for print notices.

HB 35 also provides that the Florida Press Association “seek to ensure” that minority communities across Florida have equal access to legal notices on the Florida Press Association’s website. The FPA must also prepare a yearly report detailing its efforts to ensure this access. If competition causes online notice publication prices to decrease, the law provides that the “bill may reduce newspaper revenue if government agencies transition to publishing legal notices online.”

HB 566 – peer-to-peer car-sharing programs

Another bill, introduced by Representative Keith Perry places new regulations on ““peer-to-peer” car sharing programs.” This bill was approved by the House 101-15 on April 28 and signed by Governor DeSantis on June 29. Starting in 2022, the operators of peer-to-peer programs will be required to pay Florida “a discounted, $1 per day surcharge similar to one paid by car rental companies.” The law also “sets minimum maintenance and insurance requirements” for the operators of the program and shared drivers.” WPTV further explained that this new also requires that an individual’s rental vehicle must be current on safety recalls – in addition to the minimum requirements.

SB 252 – Child Safety Alarm Act

According to WPTV, this law, called the “Child Safety Alarm Act,” became effective in October 2021 but began to be enforceable in January 2022. The law requires that all childcare facilities and large family childcare homes have alarms in the vehicles that transport the children. The aim of the bill is to help protect children by reminding drivers to “check for kids before walking away, especially during hot days when heatstroke is a risk.”

Sen. Linda Stewart said that the law should help parents feel more secure about their children’s safety.

A reduction in workers’ compensation insurance rates

Almost every employer is required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for their workers. Following an order by a Florida commissioner, David Altmaier, in November 2021, the insurance rate for both new and renewed workers’ compensation insurance policy will decrease by a rate of 4.9%.  Altmaier said in a statement, “This 4.9% reduction in workers’ compensation rates lowers insurance costs for employers in 2022. “Safer workplaces, innovative techniques, and improved risk management practices have resulted in the continued decline in workers compensation claims, ultimately benefitting Florida businesses.”

While the reduction of workers’ compensation insurance rates is welcome news, WPTV noted that the rates for Florida’s personal injury protection (for car accidents) have not been repealed. Governor DeSantis vetoed that legislation, “saying he was worried it would increase rates.

“[The bill] may have untended consequences that would negatively impact both the market and consumers,” DeSantis said.

Florida legislators return to work on January 11, 2022, to consider new legislation.

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