Legislation that makes it easier for local businesses to sue local government

The legislature is taking local government entities to task in hopes of putting a stop to unnecessary and ill-advised ordinances that put an unnecessary burden on local businesses.  Historic City News has been following this issue with great interest since we see problems ahead with its enforcement if adopted.

City and county governments have their Tallahassee lobbyists working overtime to stop two prominent Bills, complaining that it will cause an additional burden on their staff to accomplish compliance and that the cost burden will be passed on to the entire business community.

Chambers of Commerce, Business Councils, and citizen groups support the legislation introduced by local Senator Travis Hutson who has dismissed many of the local government complaints pointing out that, at the state level, economic impact studies are the order of the day. 

Business leaders say that consideration of the financial burden on local businesses created by hastily drafted local ordinances is given little if any thought.  Those leaders say the proposed Bills will hold commissioners and council members in Florida more accountable to the public and will help expose the influence of special interests in making their decisions.

  • What the legislation does: HB 403 would freeze any ordinance for 90-days if a filed lawsuit charges that its rules are “arbitrary or unreasonable”. Governments would have to draw up an economic impact study for every ordinance they craft.
  • Where it stands: After passing a House committee, the bill is up for a second reading. The Senate version has already passed.
  • Other legislation: HB 569 called the “Local Business Protection Act,” would allow businesses to sue governments over changes to local ordinances if the businesses are at least three years old and can prove a new law resulted in a 15% loss of income during a 365-day period.

That bill passed through its last House committee with a 13-7 vote on February 24th. It now awaits the first-of-two floor readings before a final vote.