New Florida bills in effect today

'Robo texts,' e-cigarettes, college tuition plans affected by new bills

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The state's record-setting, $77 billion election-year budget went into effect Tuesday, along with 157 other bills approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott.

The laws range from banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors to lowering college costs.

From protecting your children from sexual predators to being able to block those unwanted "robo-texts" on your cellphone, the laws are aimed at making Florida a better place.

Financial planner Carolyn McClanahan said a few of the laws will have great impact on Floridians.

"If you're pretty certain you want to send your kid to a Florida state school and you looked at prepaid and think, 'I can't afford $55,000,' then you should take another look at these plans," McClanahan said. "Because a new bill will bring down the cost of the Florida Prepaid College Plan from $55,000 to $35,000."

Another new law in the education field that went into effect Tuesday is aimed at illegal immigrants. Under certain requirements, it allows students who aren't Florida citizens to qualify for in state tuition.

"This law says, if they attended high school for the last three years and enter college within at least two years in Florida, they get to pay in state tuition rates, which will save them about $22,000 on their college tuition," said McClanahan.

McClanahan, also a physician, said this next bill will benefit the health care industry: the banning of sales of electronic cigarettes to minors.

She said many didn't even realize that until now minors could buy them at a store.

"Now the great thing is that that's illegal. We can't get them hooked and they cant advertise these to children and people have to wait until at least 18 until they can legally get addicted," said McClanahan.

One law that she said will be a sigh of relief for many Floridians is the new law that will protect people from unwanted text messages if they are on the Do Not Call list. Up until now, that only protected people from phone calls, not text messages.

"This nips that in the butt if you have your phone on a Do Not Call list. They can't send you unsolicited texts, so this is a good thing," said McClanahan.

Click for a list of more than 100 laws that went into effect Tuesday.

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