TALLAHASSEE — Children in Florida will be able to secretly record conversations related to sexual abuse or other violent acts, while rural letter carriers won’t have to wear seat belts while working their routes, under two bills signed into law Friday by Gov. Rick Scott.
The signing of the measure (HB 7001) about secret recordings came a day after Richard McDade, a Fort Myers man who spent four years in prison on charges of sexually assaulting his stepdaughter, was acquitted of the charges by a jury in Lee County.
The Florida Supreme Court in December ordered a new trial for McDade, declaring that recordings made by McDade’s stepdaughter should not have been allowed into his initial Lee County trial.
State law generally bars recording of conversations unless all parties agree, and it also prevents such recordings from being used as evidence in court.
The Supreme Court decision spurred the bill, which creates an exemption for children under 18 who have reason to believe that secretly recording a conversation will capture a statement regarding an unlawful sexual act or an unlawful act of physical force against a child.
“Because many young victims feel isolated and alone, and are afraid of not being believed, this step forward is critical for Florida’s children to be both heard and helped,” Lauren Book, chief executive officer and founder of the victims’ advocacy group Lauren’s Kids, said in a statement after the bill was signed.
The other bill (SB 160) signed Friday adds an exemption to the state’s mandatory seat-belt law for rural letter carriers “performing duties in the course of his or her employment on a designated postal route.”
The state’s law requiring motorists to wear seat belts already included limited exemptions, such as for workers collecting garbage or recyclable goods. HB 7001, sponsored by Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, and Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs, will take effect July 1.
SB 160, sponsored by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, took effect immediately
Original article here.