In 1973, the Florida Legislature enacted the Municipal Home Rules Power Act, giving cities and counties the power to enact their own laws — unless state law overrides them. This legislative override, or “preemption”, is either the trampling upon local rights – or – a bulwark against a patchwork of parochial laws, depending on who you ask.
“Government closest to the people serves the people best,” is all well and good — unless you own the ox which the close-by government is in the process of goring.
We’re almost a week into the session, and Historic City News has been following what has been called “the preemption to end all preemptions” bill as it inches its way toward passage — a bill that could be a boon to businesses — but a major legal and fiscal headache for local governments.
From restricting local firearms regulations to overruling local minimum wage regulations and putting the state in charge of vacation rentals, state lawmakers have stepped in to standardize regulations across the state — a move that some local lawmakers see as Tallahassee overreach. So, how much of the state rulemaking should come out of the capitol and how much from local lawmakers?
Two bills of interest have been filed by our State Senator, Travis Hutson.
SB280 would require counties and cities to produce a “business impact statement” before passing ordinances and make them suspend enforcement of the ordinances if they’re challenged in court. That bill was passed by the Senate Community Affairs Committee.
SB620 would allow businesses to sue if revenues or profits fall at least 15% because of a local ordinance. That bill needs to clear the Appropriations Committee before it could go to the full Senate.
- The impact: Businesses will have new tools to fight back against laws that they view as harming them. For governments, the future could be filled with lawsuits, from the valid to the frivolous.
- The supporters: The Florida Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and Americans for Prosperity-Florida are in favor.
- The opponents: The Florida League of Cities has come out against the laws, while the Association of Counties has not taken a position but raised concerns.
- The argument: Hutson has said that if the state is going to stop passing preemption laws, it needs to make sure businesses are protected. Requiring local governments to quantify the impact of the laws they pass and giving businesses a way to fight back limits the need for Tallahassee to step in, he says.
- The pushback: Opponents call the measures a “trial lawyer’s dream,” with national companies being given a process to override the decision of local lawmakers and hefty legal bills coming out of local taxpayer dollars.
We’re glad to have you with us as we follow these issues and others through the course of the session.