Proposal Takes Aim At Preemption Of Local Regulations

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WUSF Public Media
By News Service of Florida
January 15, 2020

A Senate Democrat on Friday filed a proposal that would make it harder for the Legislature to limit the power of local governments.

Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale, filed the proposed constitutional amendment (SJR 1674) for consideration during the legislative session that starts Tuesday. It comes amid efforts by cities and counties to fend off legislative attempts to “preempt” local regulations.

Under Farmer’s proposal, preemption bills would have to be approved by two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate, up from the current majorities. As a proposed constitutional amendment, Farmer’s measure also would have to be approved by voters.

Preemption bills for the 2020 session have been filed by Republicans and Democrats. Those bills deal with issues such as local occupational licensing (HB 3), permitting standards for mobile home parks (HB 647), vacation rental properties (HB 1011) and home-based businesses (SB 778).

Already drawing heavy attention has been a proposal (HB 113 and SB 172) that would prevent local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens and cosmetics. The proposal would prevent Key West from enforcing a ban on sunscreens containing chemicals that could be harmful to coral reefs. Business groups have argued that state preemptions are needed for consistency and to clear up patchworks of regulations at the local level.

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2 Responses to Proposal Takes Aim At Preemption Of Local Regulations

  1. Mark Tomes says:

    Many local communities find themselves at the mercy of large corporations and corporate-friendly state governments who want to frack their neighborhood, dump their waste, build chemical manufacturing plants, etc., usually in poorer communities whose residents don’t have the knowledge or resources of how to fight back. But that is changing as non-profit legal groups step in to help, and hence, the push back to limit the power of local governments and citizens to make rules beneficial to their one communities.

    One growing movement is for a local government to declare a nearby river or forest or other natural ecosystem as having the right to sustain itself or thrive and giving any citizen the right to file suit against an entity trying to harm such an ecosystem. Can you imagine someone filing suit on behalf of the Everglades if the latter had a right to live and thrive, just as you have that right? Or what about a beach, or Egans Creek? Very powerful, and no wonder Chamber of Commerces, large corporations, and corporation-friendly politicians fear such local laws.

    A leader in helping communities overcome these obstacles and take control of their own environment and lives is the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Check them out. They deserve our support.

  2. Lyn Pannone says:

    Another example of curbing Home Rule is the law passed during the last legislative session that prohibits certain requirements regarding tree removal. Amelia Island is vastly different from south Florida and ordinances that are appropriate for them can be inappropriate for Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach.
    The Home Rule Powers Act of 1973 (Article VIII, Sec. 2(b) states “Municipalities shall have governmental, corporate and proprietary powers to enable them to conduct municipal government, perform municipal functions and render municipal services, and may exercise power for municipal purposes except as otherwise provided by law”.
    It’s time for the legislature to stop infringing on local home rule powers.

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