Your Local Monday News: New Laws, Bike Safety And More

Here’s what you should know to start your week.

1. New State Laws Go Into Effect

Five new laws have gone into effect in Florida today. The laws were passed in this year’s legislative session.

First responders who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are now being offered special benefits. The law states that benefits do not require a physical injury and are not subject to limitations.

There’s a new way to purchase guns. House Bill 55 requires the Florida Department of Law Enforcement provide additional payment options to licensed firearm dealers, importers and manufacturers when paying for the background history check.

Senate Bill 1576, Ponce’s Law, requires animal shelters that take in lost animals to adopt policies that ensure the animal shelter is doing everything in its power to return the animal to its home. The law is in response to the beating of a nine-month-old puppy named Ponce.

House Bill 523 now makes it a third-degree felony to trespass on airport property with the intent to harm, damage property or delay operation of an airplane.

House Bill 135 requires the application for motor vehicle registration to include if a person is deaf or hard of hearing.

2. Bike Safety Enforcement in St. Petersburg

Florida currently has the highest per-capita bicyclist death rate in the nation. Pinellas County has the highest cyclist death rate in the United States, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

Since 2014, state transportation officials have been increasing the width of the bicycle lane to lower the death rates. As of now, it hasn’t made much difference.

To lower death rates of bicyclists and pedestrians, St. Petersburg police are taking extra measures. Today, they started a high visibility enforcement. The police are offering free bicycle lights to any bicyclist that doesn’t have one.

3. Flashing Beacons Installed in Tampa to Prevent Pedestrian Deaths

Flashing beacon lights have been installed on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa after the death of a mom and baby girl. The flashing beacons were installed today at three pedestrian walkways.

Jean Duncan, Transportation and Stormwater Services Department director, anticipates having the beacons operational on Oct. 24, 2018.

4. National Child Health Day

Since 1928, the President of the United States has proclaimed National Child Health Day, according to National Day Calendar. The day is set aside to learn how everyone can protect children’s health.

The University of South Florida’s club Bulls for Kids (BFK) gave tours of Shriner’s Hospital for Children. BFK has been raising money for Shriner’s Hospital for 15 years and has raised over $700,000.

To promote the observance, go to the park or do some yard work. Use #ChildHealthDay to show your support on social media.

5. Sarasota is Offering Free Trees for Residents

Starting today, Sarasota is offering free trees to residents to reduce energy bills and promote the Community Canopy’s. Residents can choose from one of three Florida-friendly trees: crepe myrtle, dahoon holly and red maple. UPDATE: Crepe myrtle is sold-out.

Locals can reserve one tree per household while supplies last. This is the fourth year the city has offered the tree-giveaway program. The program is funded by Community Canopy.


Anchor: Galen Martin

Prompter: Angie Romero

Technical Director: Sherra Parent

Director: Dakota Galvin

Camera Operators: Kaitlyn Hart; Jeffrey Smith

Floor Manager: Steven Carrandi

Audio: Helen Leon

Graphics: Nada Blassy

Teaching Assistant: Dakota Galvin

Graduate Assistant: Kelsey Baker

Faculty Advisor: Cathy Gugerty