New laws go into effect on Oct. 1

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Nearly 30 new laws go into effect Thursday, Oct. 1, ranging from prohibiting placing “tracking devices” on people’s cars and outlawing “revenge porn” to making it a crime to impersonate a firefighter.

One omnibus highway bill becoming law allows a law enforcement agency to spend up to $5,000 “to cover funeral and burial expenses of a law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty.” It also requires an “18-inch square, red flag on all loads that extend four feet or more beyond a vehicle.”

Here’s a quick look at three of the 27 new laws:

♦ HB 197 creates a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail, for “installing a tracking device or tracking application on another person’s property without the other person’s consent,” according to the staff analysis.

It includes several exceptions, however, for law enforcement, parents who want to keep tabs on their teens and caregivers of the elderly.

Specifically, the law “provides for disciplinary action against persons engaged in private investigation, security, or repossession, who install tracking devices or tracking applications in violation” of the law, the analysis says.

♦ SB 538 outlaws “sexual cyberharassment,” commonly known as revenge porn, when someone posts an explicit image of another online without permission.

In recent years, mostly women have been victimized when their jilted lovers or spouses put explicit photos or video of them on the Internet.

The law defines sexual cyberharassment as “publish(ing) a sexually explicit image of a person that contains or conveys personal identification information … without the person’s consent, for no legitimate purpose, with the intent of causing substantial emotional distress to the person.”

Violators could face a first-degree misdemeanor charge, or up to a year in jail; repeat offenders could be socked with a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum five years in prison.

♦ SB 1010 now makes it illegal to impersonate  firefighters and state arson investigators by adding them to a previous list of officials. A lawbreaker faces a third-degree felony.

The law includes making it a crime to wear or use a fake “badge, insignia, emblem, identification card, or uniform.”

Many law enforcement agencies give out plastic badges and other promotional items to children that say “junior officer” or “junior firefighter.”

The new law makes it illegal to use such items “with the intent to mislead or cause another person to believe that he or she is a member of that agency.”

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