Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law on Friday dozens of measures covering everything from flood insurance, electronic cigarettes and parasailing.
The Republican governor, who has been holding re-election campaign events for most of this month, did the bill signings privately. Scott and previous governors usually hold public bill signings during the summer, but he has spent little time in the Capitol since the end of the annual legislative session.
One of the bills (SB 542) signed by Scott is designed to make it easier for private companies to sell flood insurance in the state. Florida is home to 37 percent of the federal flood insurance policies. The push for the bill came in the wake of skyrocketing premiums in the federal program although Congress did roll back some of those amid an outcry from coastal homeowners.
Scott also signed a bill (SB 708) that would prohibit insurers from using credit information to deny a claim or cancel a policy. The new law would also create a “homeowner claims bill of rights” that requires insurers to spell out to homeowners what they can expect when they file a claim. The legislation was a top priority of Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.
The governor also signed a measure (SB 224) that prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.
He also signed a measure making parasailing subject to safety guidelines. The popular water sport in which people are lifted into the air by a motor boat has received national attention in recent years with several deaths and accidents.
One of the main requirements of the new law (SB 320) is that parasailing would be banned if there is a sustained wind speed of more than 20 miles per hour, when gusts are higher than 25 miles per hour, or when rain or fog diminishes visibility.
In 2012, Kathleen Miskell died after her parasail harness broke and she plummeted as much as 200 feet into the Atlantic Ocean. Amber White died in a parasailing accident in 2007.
“The safety of Floridians and the many tourists who visit our state is paramount, and this law will hopefully prevent parasailing tragedies such as we’ve seen,” said Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach and the bill sponsor.
Charities in the state would be subject to stricter regulations (HB 629) under another bill approved by Scott. The legislation was a top priority of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose office regulates charities, and came in the wake of articles by the Tampa Bay Times examining fraudulent charities.
“This law will weed out the bad actors who are defrauding generous givers and thus bring integrity back to Florida’s network of reputable charities,” Putnam said in a statement.