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Scott Signs 'Pastor Protection,' 25 Other Bills Into Law

Gov. Rick Scott

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a controversial measure called the “Pastor Protection Act” Thursday. It was one of 26 bills that got the governor’s approval at the same time.

The Pastor Protection Act, sponsored by North Florida lawmakers Rep. Janet Adkins (R-Fernandina Beach) and Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach), says clergy don’t have to perform marriages if they violate their religious beliefs. Opponents of the bill say it’s unnecessarily homophobic and “hateful” because that protection already exists in the Constitution.

Another bill Scott signed automatically expunges criminal records of nonviolent juvenile offenders after two years instead of the current five years.

Another measure replaces Florida’s statue of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith in the U.S. Capitol with a yet-to-be-determined historical figure.

And Florida won’t have any absentee voters this fall. That’s because Scott signed bill replacing all mentions of absentee voting in state law with the term “vote by mail.”

Here’s the full list of bills the governor signed Thursday:

SB 80           Family Trust Companies – This bill revises requirements under the Family Trust Company Act.


SB 112         Absentee Voting – This bill replaces the term “absentee ballot” with the term “vote-by-mail ballot” in Florida Statutes.


SB 196         Public Records – This bill relates to public records and the Department of Transportation (protects companies’ financial information).


SB 222         Parking for Disabled Veterans – This bill grants free parking at public airports to vehicles with a Disabled Veterans or a Paralyzed Veterans of America designation.


SB 232         Guardianship – This bill expands oversight by the Department of Elder Affairs and provides for the regulation of professional guardians.


SB 310         National Statuary Hall – This bill relates to the National Statuary Hall Collection at the U.S. Capitol.


SB 386         Expunction of Records of Minors – This bill relates to the criminal records of minors.


SB 396         Nonresident Plaintiffs in Civil Actions – This bill removes a bond requirement in certain civil cases.


SB 416         The Location of Utilities – This bill relates to the relocation of utilities for certain projects. 


SB 458         Transfer of Structured Settlement Payment Rights – This bill revises court procedures relating to structured settlement agreements.


SB 494         Digital Assets – This bill designates access and control of an individual’s digital assets.


SB 7002       A Review under the Open Government Sunset Review Act – This bill reenacts a public records exemption related to local government audits.


SB 7024       A Review under the Open Government Sunset Review Act – This bill reenacts a public records exemption for the Florida Center for Brain Tumor Research.


SB 7030       A Review under the Open Government Sunset Review Act – This bill reenacts an existing public records exemption for certain governmental processes.


HB 43           Churches or Religious Organizations – This bill specifies that clergy are not required to perform marriages if in violation of sincerely held religious beliefs.


HB 103         Transactions in Fresh Produce Markets – This bill allows SNAP to be used to buy fresh food.


HB 111         Jury Service – This bill allows individuals unable to perform jury duty for physical reasons to be permanently excluded upon request.


HB 145         Financial Transactions – This bill makes revisions to statutes related to financial transactions.


HB 173         Medical Faculty Certification – This bill allows certain medical school faculty physicians at Florida Atlantic University to practice medicine in Florida.


HB 525         The Small Community Sewer Construction Assistance Act – This bill expands program eligibility to include additional small counties and special districts.


HB 613         Workers’ Compensation System Administration – This bill revises various components of Workers’ Compensation System Administration.


HB 695         Title Insurance – This bill revises certain requirements related to title insurance.


HB 719         Education Personnel – This bill revises certain requirements related to the Department of Education and provides additional training for principals. 


HB 739         Secondhand Dealers – This bill helps secondhand dealers identify and return stolen items.


HB 875         Motor Vehicle Service Agreement Companies – This bill allows motor vehicle service agreements to expand coverage.

SB 86             Israel – Prohibits the State Board of Administration from investing in companies that boycott Israel.

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP