Street racing, vegetable gardens and opioid abuse are among the topics of several bills Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into Florida law Monday afternoon.
Meanwhile, DeSantis will sign a bill this morning on the University of South Florida's Office of Veteran Success.
The street racing bill, which takes effect on July 1, will make it easier for police to charge people with drag racing on city streets. It eliminates the requirement that a law enforcement officer witness the racing before making an arrest. Instead, officers can rely on witness statements.
The signing comes just over a year after a toddler was killed after police say she and her mother were struck by two Tampa teenagers who were street racing on Bayshore Boulevard.
Tampa police reported that a Ford Mustang driven by 18-year-old Cameron Herrin of Tampa struck 24-year-old Jessica Reisinger of Jeromesville, Ohio, as she was pushing her daughter Lillia Raubenolt's stroller across Bayshore near W. Knights Ave. just before noon Wednesday. Reisinger was pronounced dead at Tampa General Hospital.
Another measure will help Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody sue drug makers and pharmacies the state claims contributed to the opioid addiction epidemic.
"The destruction caused by opioid abuse is undeniable and this epidemic is ravaging our communities. Those who helped fuel this man-made crisis must be held accountable and this new law will help us do that," Moody said in a news release.
The new law, which takes effect July 1, will allow Moody to collect information from the state's prescription drug database to help build a case for the state's lawsuits against against companies she says have created the opioid addiction problem. In addition to opioid manufacturers, Florida is also suing Walgreens and CVS, alleging they added to the opioid crisis by overselling painkillers and not taking precautions to stop illegal sales.
Another bill signed by DeSantis will require the state Department of Health to create a pamphlet discussing alternatives to opioids for pain treatment. It will also require doctors to give the pamphlet to patients and discuss alternative pain treatment before prescribing opioids. It goes into effect July 1.
And another new law will let Floridians grow fruit and vegetables in their front yards without fear of local government fines beginning July 1.
The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Rob Bradley, turned to puns to express his joy over the bill signing.
"When I learned that the bill was signed I got artichoked up. Local governments will no longer be able to squash our freedom to grow vegetables on our land," Bradley said in a Twitter direct message.
The legislation was inspired by a court battle after Miami Shores told a homeowner to dig up a vegetable garden or face a $50 a day fine. An appeals court upheld the ordinance.