Street Takeover, School Safety Bills Signed

TALLAHASSEE — Measures to crack down on participants in “street takeovers” and bolster school safety were among 16 bills Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Monday.

DeSantis’ office announced late Monday that he had signed the bills, which passed during the legislative session that ended March 8.

One of the bills (SB 1764) targets “coordinated” events where 10 or more vehicles are involved in street takeovers. It will increase fines and potential jail time for people who participate.

Rep. Kiyan Michael, a Jacksonville Republican who co-sponsored the bill, said in February the issue is a “public safety” problem that occurs from Jacksonville to Miami. She also said current penalties have not been a deterrent for many people.

Under the bill, for example, maximum fines for first-time offenses will increase from $1,000 to $2,000. People who commit second offenses within a year could face third-degree felony charges, up from a first degree misdemeanor charge. The bill will take effect July 1.

Rep. Doug Bankson, an Apopka Republican and bill co-sponsor, said in March that life-threatening street racing is increasing statewide because of popular video games and movies.

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The “young population are emboldened to emulate what they’re seeing on the screen, whether it be the movie screen, TV screen or computer screen,” Bankson said. “The problem is that life does not allow a do-over with a simple push of a button.”

DeSantis also signed a wide-ranging school-safety measure (HB 1473) that, in part, sets new perimeter and door-safety requirements that will have to be in place before next school year.

A House staff analysis said the bill will require entryways to be closed and locked when students are on campus and “actively staffed” when open or unlocked.

Also, the measure will require people who intend to fly drones over schools to first get permission from school officials.

Violators will face second-degree misdemeanor charges, with first-degree misdemeanors for subsequent violations. Penalties will be more severe for people who fly drones over schools to capture video.

Florida law already bars people from operating drones over what are known as “critical infrastructure” facilities, which include power generation or transmission facilities, wastewater treatment plants, airports and seaports.

Another bill signed by DeSantis will provide just over $1 million for fighting sex trafficking at massage establishments.

With the state seeking to better identify people engaged in human trafficking at such establishments, the bill (HB 197) will fund eight full-time positions at the Florida Department of Health to investigate an anticipated increase in complaints about the businesses.

The measure also will increase situations in which the agency can suspend licenses of massage therapists or massage establishments.

“The bill expressly prohibits any sexual activity in a massage establishment, as opposed to sexual misconduct which is prohibited under current law, and prohibits the use of an establishment to arrange for sexual activity in another location,” a staff analysis of the bill said.

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The measure, which will take effect July 1, also will prohibit massage therapists or establishments from advertising through any outlet used to promote prostitution or escort services.

A staff analysis of the bill said 70 administrative complaints involving sexual misconduct were filed against massage therapists and massage establishments during the 2022-2023 fiscal year. The state had 8,966 licensed massage establishments during that time.

Other stories you may want to read:

Bezos Invests in Florida and Lab-Grown Meat-DeSantis Bans It

DeSantis Signs Annual Tax Cut Package

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