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With Rick Scott’s blessing, “shacking up” now legal in Florida

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Gov. Rick Scott has approved a repeal of a 148-year-law that criminalizes an unmarried couple living together.

The measure legalizing “cohabitation” (SB 498) was one of 20 bills signed into law by the governor on Wednesday.

The change is largely a reflection of the times: Though Florida was among a few states that still criminalized cohabitation, its prohibition was essentially unenforced.

Technically, a man and woman living together but not married could have been fined $500 and locked up for 60 days. There are almost 438,000 “unmarried male-female couples” in the state, according to 2014 census data.

Other bills OK’d by the governor establish a Florida Holocaust Memorial on the grounds of the Capitol, allow All Aboard Florida to sell beer at its train stations, and offer discounts on park entrance fees to surviving family of military service members and first responders who die in the line of duty.

Here’s the official list of Wednesday’s approved bills as provided by the Governor’s Office:

SB 88, Gold Star License Plates – This bill revises the list of military family members that are eligible for a Gold Star license plate.

SB 90, Natural Gas Rebate Program – This bill revises the application process for the Natural Gas Rebate Program.

SB 100, Pollution Discharge Removal and Prevention – This bill revises certain provisions of the Petroleum Restoration Program and other contaminated site cleanup regulations.

SB 218, Offenses Involving Electronic Benefits Transfer Cards – This bill enhances criminal penalties for public assistance fraud.

SB 230, Missing Persons with Special Needs – This bill creates pilot programs to implement new search and rescue efforts in cases of missing persons with special needs.

SB 288, State Designations – This bill renames the John U. Lloyd Beach State Park as the Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park and re-designates other structures within the park.

SB 380, Violation of an Injunction for Protection – This bill increases penalties for offenders who commit three or more violations of a domestic violence injunction.

SB 498, Repeal of a Prohibition on Cohabitation – This bill repeals a law relating to cohabitation.

SB 540, Estates – This bill revises the law relating to estates.

SB 698, Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco – This bill revises various provisions in the Florida Beverage Law.

SB 716, The Florida Holocaust Memorial – This bill establishes the Florida Holocaust Memorial in the State Capitol Complex.

SB 1106, International Trust Entities – This bill provides a one year moratorium for organizations providing services to international trust entities.

SB 1110, The Central Florida Expressway Authority – This bill makes administrative changes to the Central Florida Expressway Authority.

SB 1170, Health Plan Regulatory Administration – This bill aligns Florida Statutes with federal law.

SB 1176, Dredge and Fill Activities – This bill authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection to issue additional dredge and fill permits.

SB 1202, Discounts on Public Park Entrance Fees and Transportation Fares– This bill provides discounts on park entrance fees and transportation fees for veterans.

SB 1274, Limited Sinkhole Coverage Insurance – This bill allows insurers to offer a new type of limited sinkhole insurance coverage.

SB 1288, Emergency Management – This bill revises definitions and establishes a statewide system to facilitate transport and distribution of essentials during a disaster.

SB 1294, Victim and Witness Protection – This bill enhances protections for minors and victims.

SB 1318, Shellfish Harvesting – This bill directs the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Department of Environmental Protection to protect shellfish beds and authorizes additional methods of shellfish harvesting.

Scott’s remaining bill deadlines are April 9, 12, 14, 16 and 19. The last deadline is for state Sen. Kelli Stargels alimony overhaul measure.

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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