An $18,400 Raise for Supervisor of Elections And Other New Laws Go Into Effect This Week
FlaglerLive | September 26, 2016
County elections supervisors are up for pay raises, while penalties increase for trafficking in the modern version of food stamps and for stealing credit-card information at gas pumps, under new laws that go into effect Saturday.
Those changes to state laws are among 26 that take effect this weekend after being crafted during the 2016 legislative session. Lawmakers sent 272 bills to Gov. Rick Scott from the regular legislative session, which ended in March. Scott vetoed three and signed the rest.
The majority of the new laws, including the state’s annual budget, went into effect July 1 or immediately upon receiving Scott’s signature.
Here are some of the laws that will take effect Saturday:
— SB 514, which adjusts salaries for county supervisors of elections to be calculated the same as for clerks of circuit court, property appraisers and tax collectors. The Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research has indicated the change will result in $1.2 million in salary increases, which averages to an $18,540 increase per county.
That’s almost the exact amount that will apply in Flagler County: $18,408, making Supervisor of Elections Kaiti Lenhart’s salary–currently 98,766–the same as that of Clerk of Court Gail Wadsworth, Tax Collector Suzanne Johnston and Property Appraiser Jay Gardner: $117,174.
The last time the formula setting supervisors’ salaries was changed goes back to 1988. The formula is set by the state, but the money is paid out of local tax dollars, out of the budgets of each of the constitutional offices. Each constitutional officer is eligible for an additional $2,000 per year if that officer meets the certification requirement applicable to the office.
The Flagler County sheriff is still the highest-paid constitutional officer, with an annual salary of 126,123. County commissioners are paid $51,000, school board members are paid $32,000.
— HB 75, which expands rules regarding electronic monitoring devices. The measure makes it a third-degree felony to ask another person to remove or help circumvent the operation of a monitoring device.
— SB 218, which is aimed at reducing trafficking in electronic-benefit transfer cards. The cards, commonly known as EBT cards, are a higher-tech form of food stamps and help provide food assistance to low-income Floridians. The measure, in part, would make it a first-degree misdemeanor to have two or more EBT cards and sell or attempt to sell one of the cards. A second offense would be a third-degree felony.
— HB 387, which is named “Carl’s Law” and increases civil and criminal penalties when victims are people with disabilities. Carl Stark, a 36-year-old autistic man from St. Augustine was shot and killed in 2015 after being targeted by teenagers looking to steal a car.
— SB 436, which makes it a second-degree felony for making false reports about using firearms in a violent manner. The law also makes it a first-degree misdemeanor to threaten with death or serious harm a law-enforcement officer, state attorney or assistant state attorney, firefighter, judge, elected official or any of their family members.
— HB 545, which prohibits people under 18 from being prosecuted for prostitution and makes clear that sexually exploiting a child in prostitution should be viewed as human trafficking. The measure also increases the penalty for people who knowingly rent space used for prostitution.
— SB 912, which is part of a crackdown on illegal electronic skimmers that have been found on gas pumps and ATM machines. The measure, backed by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, increases the penalties for people who possess counterfeit credit-card information. The proposal also includes requirements for gas-station owners and managers to use security measures on self-service fuel pumps.
— SB 1470, which revises rules dealing with stone-crab traps and spiny-lobster traps. In part, the law makes clear that a person with fewer than 100 undersized spiny lobsters may face a misdemeanor violation for each of the undersized crustaceans. Possessing more than 100 undersized spiny lobsters is a third degree felony offense.
— HB 7071, which is intended to ease the legal threshold to prosecute officials involved in public corruption. Rather than proving an official acted “with corrupt intent,” prosecutors will need to show the person “knowingly and intentionally” engaged in the corrupt act.
–News Service of Florida and FlaglerLive