This year’s session started with 3,492 bills filed. Of those bills, 197 passed the state legislature. Of those,177 were signed into law by Governor DeSantis. Most, 150, have already taken effect. Another 27 kick in today. Of the 27 you’ve likely heard of at least a couple. Most of the focus has been on the new law that mandates “hands-free” use of mobile devices in construction and school zones. This is one to watch for good reason. It’s not just that it potentially impacts most Floridians. I also believe it’s a likely precursor to an eventual “hands-free” law while driving in all circumstances. That would also address Florida’s new difficult to enforce, texting while driving law. Also, Florida’s Sanctuary Cities law takes effect today mandating state and local compliance with federal authorities on immigration matters. Plus, Florida’s Guardian law takes full effect today in the school districts that fully enabled it, none in South Florida.
Another high-profile law is about college hazing. Crafted after a rash of hazing incidents that have led to injuries and deaths of Floridians, including Andrew Coffey’s death at FSU, the new law offers immunity to any direct witness to a hazing incident who immediately reports it to authorities.
However, there’s one that’s received a lot of attention but hasn’t been widely discussed. Florida’s new law about Child Like Sex Dolls. Other than the sensational aspects of this new law, I haven’t heard critical consideration of it publicly. Who’s the ultimate barometer of what looks too much like a child? The law states, "Prohibited Acts in Connection with Obscene or Lewd Materials; Prohibiting a person from knowingly selling, lending, giving away, distributing, transmitting, showing, or transmuting; offering to commit such actions; having in his or her possession, custody, or control with the intent to commit such actions; or advertising in any manner an obscene, child-like sex doll; providing criminal penalties, etc".
I know it’s well-intended, and I hope it’s helpful for the intended purpose of discouraging child molestation but it’s one of those laws that introduce maximum subjectivity and the potential for highly awkward cases in the future. Who’s the barometer of what’s too child-like? And my point is this. We continue to want to legislate behavior by subjectively thinking we’re going to exact positive outcomes by taking away objects. This is not dissimilar to various gun control proposals. Even if you were to outlaw all guns, will you have someone desirous of using them to kill people decide to become a well-adjusted member of society instead? If you have a would-be child predator, does that become not an issue by taking away the dolls? A little analytical thought as 27 new laws take effect today. We can legislate behavior all we want but that won’t fix people bent on harming others.
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