In The News

Florida Fishing License, Red Light Running Among Law Changes Taking Effect Thursday

By Maria Zilberman
Posted June 30, 2010 at 8:01 p.m.

NAPLES — July 1 marks the first day of a new state fiscal year and 140 new laws in Florida.

Included in the pack is the elimination of a shoreline fishing license fee for state residents.

The state has eliminated the $9 annual fee that went into effect in August, but anyone fishing from the shore or a pier still needs a license even though there is no fee for it.

The primary purpose of requiring a shoreline license is to collect information about who is fishing and where, not to gain revenue, said Henry Cabbage, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the agency that issues fishing licenses in Florida.

The state-issued licenses keep locals from having to buy a more costly federal license. A law that went into effect in January requires all anglers to register federally, or with an approved state agency. The federal license is free now, but could cost up to $25 in 2011.

Though there is no license fee, Floridians still will have to pay a processing cost for the shoreline license. The cost is $2.31 for a license processed online and $3.33 for a license processed over the phone. Licensing fees still will be charged for nonresidents.

The state has issued 86,002 shoreline licenses since the law went into effect in August. Of those, 3,311 were issued in Lee County and 932 in Collier County.

Anglers caught fishing in Florida without a license are fined $50, individual county fees and the cost of obtaining the license they should have had.

Cabbage said repealing the fee won't have a financial effect on the state this fiscal year because Florida officials have allocated money to make up for the revenue loss. In the future, he expects it will.

Money from license sales goes toward research, resource management and law enforcement, which is why not all anglers are sold on the free license.

"They need to do some work on restocking the fish," said Tom Shadley, owner of Mangrove Outfitters. To Shadley, who has had his fly fishing store and guide services in the Naples area since 1994, free licenses mean less money for the necessary services.

Also as of July 1, the fine for running a red light in the state becomes $158.

A new Florida law signed by the governor sets that fine, but doesn't allow tickets for people who make prudent right turns on red even if they are caught doing so by an intersection camera.

Collier County uses red light cameras to catch offenders, but until the local law recently changed, most of the tickets issued were for right turns on red without making a full stop.

The new state law legalizes red light cameras statewide and is expected to bring in $38 million in state revenue its first year.

Another law that goes into effect hopes to decrease the number of eyesores in public areas _ namely, cars parked street-side with for-sale signs.

Local governments can fine the owners and tow the cars.

However, Roger Jacobsen, harbor and code enforcement manager for the city of Naples, said the city doesn't plan to tow or fine. The goal, he said, is compliance, and the city favors a friendlier approach.

The city doesn't allow people to leave their cars on public streets with for-sale signs, but the problem is rare and most people don't know that it isn't allowed, he said.

When someone leaves a car, the city gives them a call and asks for the owner to remove the vehicle.

"It's very easy because the phone number is always there with the 'for-sale' sign," he said.

The Collier County Sheriff's Office places red tags on vehicles left for sale on public streets, giving the owner 24 hours to remove the vehicle. If a vehicle is obstructing traffic, deputies can have it towed immediately. These procedures won't change immediately.

"Due to this being a brand new law, the CCSO will continue to red tag these vehicles as a courtesy to the owners," sheriff's spokeswoman Kristi Lester said. "This procedure could be subject to change once the public has been properly educated on this new law."

Homeowner and condominium associations can now collect rent directly from tenants whose landlord hasn't been paying association fees. If the tenant doesn't pay the association, the association can evict the tenant.

While the purpose is to help reduce an association's losses from owners in foreclosure, the law misses the mark, said attorney Eric Glazer of Glazer & Associates in Hollywood, a Florida east coast firm that specializes in condo and homeowner law.

The law will put tenants in a rough spot between their landlord and the association and many could end up moving instead of fighting, he said.

A law that targeted banks and sped up the foreclosure process would have been better, he said.

"Instead they allowed the association to pick a fight with the weakest kid in the class _ the tenant," Glazer said.

The Legislature passed 274 laws in the spring, some of which already have gone into effect or are slated for a later start.