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Posted January 9, 2017 | 9:55 AM

Top 5 New Hillsborough County Laws for 2017

Ordinances aim to control lobbying, deter animal abusers, curb human trafficking

Tight restrictions on lobbyists, a registry for animal abusers, and notices targeting victims of human trafficking were among ordinances adopted in Hillsborough County in 2016.

The Board of County Commissioners also passed measures requiring annual inspections of privately owned fire hydrants, and imposed a moratorium on applications to operate medical marijuana dispensing facilities.

The County adopted or changed a comparatively small number of ordinances last year, but the topics were wide-ranging. Here is a rundown of five of the most significant laws enacted by Hillsborough County Commissioners:

  • Lobbyist Registration - An existing ordinance was bolstered and expanded to provide more information about those who lobby or meet with top elected and appointed officials and Hillsborough County employees. The new version, adopted in January 2016, requires lobbyists to register each year, and to note the people or companies on whose behalf they appear. Lobbyists and others seeking to meet with top County leaders must sign in at kiosks.
  • Animal Abuser Registry - The first registry of its kind in Florida took effect in Hillsborough County in November. The ordinance requires anyone convicted of abusing animals to be named on the registry, and bars them from having pets while on the list. An abuser remains on the registry for five years after an initial criminal conviction. Repeat offenders get more years. At the end of 2016, one person was on the registry.
  • Human Trafficking Signage - This ordinance mandates the posting of signs with a national human trafficking hotline and other information at establishments where trafficking victims are likely to be. Ideally, the notices draw the attention of people forced against their will into prostitution, housework, farm work, and other activities.
  • Privately Owned Fire Hydrants - Some fire hydrants in Hillsborough County are privately owned and maintained. In the past, there was no requirement to inspect them. That changed in 2016 when local government officials revised inspection and record-keeping standards to ensure the devices remain in good working condition.
  • Moratorium on Applications for Medical Marijuana Dispensing Facilities - Hillsborough County Commissioners in October imposed a 180-day moratorium on the acceptance of new applications for medical marijuana dispensing establishments in Hillsborough County. The goal was to allow time to study, hold public hearings, and amend local codes and ordinances in compliance with Florida laws regarding the new businesses and clinics.

These ordinances were among 27 adopted or changed by the Board of County Commissioners in 2016. The Board passed 32 new laws in 2015, and 39 in 2014.