Here are 10 controversial Florida laws going into effect July 1

Stand your ground
From concealed weapons to school choice, change is coming to Florida.

On Saturday, Floridians will gain the right to carry concealed firearms without a permit. The same day, new restrictions on discussing transgender issues in school will go into effect. Meanwhile, thousands more families will gain access to private school vouchers.

In a Session where culture wars played out fast, numerous conservative priorities passed by the Legislature were quickly signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Now, many of those laws are finally set to take effect.

Permitless carry

A change in gun regulations (HB 543) eliminates a requirement to obtain a license to carry a concealed gun in public places. While DeSantis pushed for an open carry bill, the Senate blanched at that. Instead, lawmakers sided with most Florida Sheriffs, deciding individuals with legal firearms don’t need a special course and license to possess them in public. Democrats fear the change will introduce more guns to settings and make Florida less safe. But the National Rifle Association, which championed the law, said Florida is the 26th state to allow permitless carry, proving the policy is mainstream.

Bathroom bill

In public facilities, including prisons and schools, a new requirement will go into place requiring designated bathrooms for men and women, and individuals will be required to utilize facilities based on their gender as assigned at birth. The bathroom law (HB 1521) is one of several that will disproportionately impact LGBTQ Floridians, and has no exceptions even for those who have fully transitioned through gender-reassignment surgery. The Senate rejected a House-approved attempt to impose the change at private retailers. The entities managing public facilities will be responsible for enforcement, which can only occur if individuals ask people violating the law to leave.

Parental rights in education expansion

The Board of Education has already effectively expanded through high school a prohibition of instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity. A new law (SB 1069) codifies that at least through 8th grade. The legislation also prohibits any requirement that school officials use preferred pronouns that don’t match gender assigned at birth. As Florida continues to see bad press over banned books, the law also expands the ability for members of the community to challenge materials in school libraries.

Immigration crackdown

A new law (SB 1718) will clamp down on employers who fail to police the immigration status of new hires and will impose restrictions on daily activities for undocumented workers in Florida. The wide-ranging bill makes immigrants ineligible for Medicaid despite a change in federal law allowing such individuals to register. Florida also won’t recognize drivers’ licenses for undocumented workers, even those from other states, and will require employers with more than 25 workers to use the federal E-Verify database to ensure each employee is legally allowed to be in the U.S., a step up in verification requirements.

Expanded school choice

For the first time, every student in Florida will have access to a school choice program and scholarships to cover $8,000 in private school tuition. The universal choice bill (HB 1) makes Florida the sixth and largest state in the U.S. to make private school vouchers available to all students. The cost of the program remains speculative, as it’s unclear how many families will apply for the program. Critics suggest the expenses could run over expectations by billions of dollars. Vouchers aren’t new to Florida. But in the past, opportunity scholarships were available only to those making 400% of the federal poverty level or less.

Right to deny care

Health care providers can now turn patients away and refuse treatment based on “conscience-based objections.” DeSantis signed the new law (SB 1580) in front of a “Prescribe Freedom” sign and said it empowers physicians to act within their own morals. The House sponsor, Panhandle GOP Rep. Joel Rudman, said he was inspired to file because of harassment over COVID-19 opinions expressed online. But LGBTQ advocates label it a right to discriminate bill against gay and transgender Floridians, and the latter group has already seen restrictions on health care put into place this year by statute and the Board of Medicine.

ESG banking ban

New restrictions will prohibit investment of state pension funds based on “environmental and social governance.” A law (HB 3) passed this year amplified existing anti-ESG legislation in effect from 2022. Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced in December the state would divest from BlackRock, one of the nation’s largest investment management companies, over “woke” financial strategies. The law now going into effect codifies restrictions and includes a prohibition on “social credit scores” and housing deposits in ESG-reliant institutions. This now applies to retirement and pension funds managed by local governments in the state as well.

Dead space

Exploring the final frontier is a dangerous business. But Florida just enacted significant liability protections for private space companies in the event crew members die or suffer serious injuries in space flights launched in the Sunshine State. This will shield companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin — except in cases determined to be “gross negligence.” The law (SB 1318) won bipartisan support in the Legislature. It will require companies to present waivers for crew members to sign before embarking on potentially dangerous missions. Boeing, another player in the space industry, lobbied on the bill’s behalf, as did Space Florida.

Radioactive roads

Waste from fertilizer manufacturing facilities could soon be used in Florida roads. The Legislature this year passed a new law (HB 1191) moving ahead on at least studying the use of phosphogypsum, a byproduct of phosphate mining, for roadway construction. Environmental groups opposing the legislation said this could potentially lead to radioactive elements including uranium, thorium and radium being laid down in Florida’s communities. Advocates of the process say this can be a safe way to recycle a byproduct now kept in stacks, such as in the Piney Point reservoir, where a disaster forced a discharge into Tampa Bay in 2021.

Dealers only

Direct-to-consumer vehicle sales are effectively banned by new legislation (HB 637) supported this year by the Florida Automobile Dealers Association. The new law prohibits auto manufacturers from selling cars to buyers without working through a licensed dealer. The Legislature approved a carve-out for Tesla and other companies that sell vehicles primarily through retail locations instead of dealerships. The new statutory language also bars manufacturers from reserving or incentivizing the sale or lease of vehicles, including electric or hybrid cars. Manufacturers refusing to provide a dealer with new vehicles equitable to other dealers is also now forbidden.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Michael K

    July 1, 2023 at 9:44 am

    Why is it that conservatives are compelled to make people they don’t like suffer, in order for them to feel better about themselves? People like DeSantis derive their power by riling up anger and hate in others to score cheap “wins” regardless of the harm to fellow human beings.

    • Chris G.

      July 3, 2023 at 10:02 pm

      Democrats are foxes, shhhhh.

  • Dont Say FLA

    July 1, 2023 at 10:45 am

    Two questions

    1- I have a pink gun and a p3n1s. Can I take my pink gun into the men’s room with me or will somebody shoot me from the adjacent urinal for having a pink gun in the men’s room?

    2- Did Rhonda exempt themself from all 10 of these laws, too?

  • Freedom Figher

    July 1, 2023 at 11:39 pm

    This is amazing for Florida. GO FLORDIA! If you don’t like what’s being pushed, moved to NJ, CA or NY. They are very welcoming states!

    • Justin Q.

      July 1, 2023 at 11:40 pm

      Yes, move to NJ, NY or CA. They are amazing. Tons of gun free zones to make you feel safe too!

    • Gail Cohen

      July 2, 2023 at 11:07 am

      You’re a moron.

      • Florida is Awesone

        July 3, 2023 at 9:59 pm

        Cry about it, Gail.

  • Dre Young

    July 3, 2023 at 10:00 pm

    GO FLORIDA, best state ever. Move out if you can’t handle the heat!

  • Monday news

    July 4, 2023 at 4:11 pm

    The bad one. Medical care. You might have to get arrested to get some

  • JD

    July 5, 2023 at 10:10 am

    F*ck all the “If you don’t like it move.” comments – that trope is old, find some new angle.

    Because it’s not Democracy. Democracy is about changing it just like it was changed here. People have “woke” up about the BS being portrayed by BananaRepublicans and they will have to contend with the younger generation and the independents they pushed over to the left come election time.

    Let’s take a single point of hypocrisy above, the auto-dealers not allowed to sell direct to consumers, but there is a carve out for Tesla? Hmm, could it be because Musk “bought” that carve out with his DeSantis virtual Presidential announcement? F*cking hypocrisy. Tell me how it isn’t? And how is that “aid” of the Twitter room not an “in kind” campaign contribution? And now here will be all the “what abouts” .

    “So much winning” from the Right. Ha.

Comments are closed.


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