Q&A of the Day – The Timing of When Florida’s Laws Go into Effect 

Q&A of the Day – The Timing of When Florida’s Laws Go into Effect 

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.   

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com  

Social: @brianmuddradio 

iHeartRadio: Use the Talkback feature – the microphone button on our station’s page in the iHeart app.    

Today’s Entry: What impacts the timing of when Florida’s laws law take effect?  

Bottom Line: Today’s question is a byproduct of a conversation with Joel Malkin in addition to a related question from a listener about the timing of when Florida’s new resign-to-law provision would go into effect, which would be immediately, if passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor DeSantis. If you’ve ever wondered why some laws take effect immediately, some seemingly at random times, some on January 1st, however with most taking effect July 1st... I’ll explain. There is a method to what may seem to be madness.  

Something that acts as a primer for this conversation is the governing law pertaining to our legislative process and that’s Florida’s Single-Subject rule. The Constitutional rule states

  • In Florida, each proposed measure must address only one subject, except measures limiting the power of government to raise revenue. 

This is important within the context of this conversation. Due to Florida’s laws necessarily being targeted, the impact of the legislation is necessarily targeted, which by way of enforcement and funding if needed is easier to account for. The bottom line is this. If you pass a law but those responsible for enforcing the law, along with those impacted by the law, haven’t had time to understand or adjust to it you could have problems and unintended consequences. By keeping laws single subject, it’s much easier to understand and to implement for all involved. And that takes us to the timing of new laws. 

Let’s start with the seemingly random dates for laws to take effect. As the case happens to be it’s not random at all. It’s what Florida law calls for if a specific date isn’t included in the law’s language. Florida’s policy regarding what’s referred to as the “bill effective date” is this: 

  • Each law takes effect on the 60th day after adjournment sine die of the session of the Legislature in which it was enacted, or as otherwise provided within the bill. 

So, for example, with this year’s session scheduled to conclude on May 5th, any legislation which isn’t provided a specific date for implementation by the legislature would become law on July 4th (or in reality, July 5th given that the 4th is a national holiday). As for laws which are given specific dates by the legislature, which is most of them, the reasons can vary based on the issue, but the most common factor is money.  

Recently when discussing the funding for Florida’s Universal School Choice, a law which takes effect July 1st, we talked about the concept of unfunded mandates. Specifically in the issue of school choice, passing the law saying parents and students have a right to use their tax dollars allocated for education for the school of their choosing is one thing. Providing the funding for it is another. Had the legislature stated that the school choice law were to take effect immediately it would have created an unfunded mandate in addition to an organizational mess. With issues like school choice where there are costs associated with the implementation of the policy, money must be allocated by the legislature for the new policy. Florida’s fiscal year runs July 1st through June 30th. The start of Florida’s new fiscal year beginning July 1st is the reason why most new laws take effect July 1st. For new laws, which require new funds to implement the policy, it’s the earliest date they can take effect as funding is allocated by the legislature to carry out the policy. As for laws which take effect January 1st... 

Florida’s laws which take effect at the start of a new calendar year, as opposed to Florida’s fiscal year, are generally positioned that why out of deference to both funding considerations and law enforcement considerations. New laws which require a law enforcement response to carry out the policy, in addition to new funding, often are provided with a January 1st start. This allows law enforcement agencies time to obtain any equipment or materials related to implementation of new policy in addition to training time for law enforcement to become aware, and if needed capable, to carry out the new policy. There are exceptions, in fact we just received one. Yesterday Governor DeSantis signed the Public Nuisances, or “anti-Semitism” bill into law and it took effect immediately. And that provides a good segue way to describe those which do most often take effect immediately.  

As is the case with Florida’s new anti-discrimination law, policy which doesn’t carry a cost to implement is often enacted immediately. After all, if it’s important enough to be made law, it theoretically is important enough to enact as soon as possible. The exception to this example is during a state of emergency. Florida has reserve funds which it can tap into for emergency declarations and legislation enacted under them.   

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