Lawmakers roll out repealer bills to restore home rule in Florida
Repealer bills address the legislature’s aggressive preemptions agenda, and corporate influence
Tallahassee, FL — Outside the House chamber doors, Rep. Anna V. Eskamani, Rep. Ben Diamond, Rep. Joy Goff-Marcell, Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, Rep. Gerladine Thompson, Rep. Richard Stark, and Rep. Javier Fernandez joined forces to roll out a package of repealer bills designed to restore home rule in Florida. Coining the package as a “Repeal-A-Thon” the lawmakers were joined by local officials, advocates, and directly impacted members of the community, addressing the legislature’s aggressive preemption agenda and the corporate special interests behind the proposal. You can watch the launch at this link.
In her opening remarks, Rep. Anna V. Eskamani stated:
“Preemption touches every facet of our communities and every constituency. Corporate interests in this process have exploited preemption to keep profit margins high while stripping away local ordinances enhancing public health, equity, and safety. That is why my colleagues and I have filed a package of repealer legislation to restore home rule and empower local voices to make local choices. I like to call it a “repeal-a-thon.”
In his remarks, Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow stated:
“I deeply appreciate the work our state lawmakers do, but as a local elected official, serving in an office closest to our communities, I am troubled by the aggressive abuse of preemption in this building. Preemption should be used to set a baseline of equity and safety, where we as local electeds, serving our communities, can address our community’s unique needs and build off of those basic protections. Unfortunately, increasingly preemption is used to weaken the power of local governments over vast areas of law and regulation — often at the behest of rich donors, businesses, and corporate lobbyists.”
Rich Templin of the AFL-CIO, Jon Harris Maurer of Equality Florida, Mark Landreth of the American Heart Association, and Deborah Foote of Sierra Club also offered remarks in solidarity behind the measure and in opposition to the abuse of preemption. Foote offered the following remarks:
“Sierra Club Florida is steadfastly opposed to preemption when it hampers a local government’s ability to protect its environment. Preemption, when used to create a statewide standard, such as regulating air quality, is appropriate. But when preemption is used to simply “do nothing”, it can have harmful consequences… this hurts our collective ability to combat climate change, urban sprawl, and pollution that impacts the quality of our water. Do not be fooled by claims that environmental issues are being addressed here at the Capitol. What is happening are simply baby steps. It is like trying to put out a house fire with a glass of water…. It is time to stop favoring corporations seeking to make a profit and the expense of our environment.”
Oscar Manzanares, a Construction Shop Steward at LiUNA Laborers’ Local 517 from Osceola County, spoke to the impact aggressive preemption legislation has on his life:
“I’m here asking lawmakers to put people over profits, and defend local democracy…. industry-written preemption bills like HB 305 are designed to strip basic employee protections that I and working people have fought so hard for. Countless protections, including wage theft ordinances, nondiscrimination policies, and parental leave are at risk. I’m here to fight back, and I thank the lawmakers standing with families like mine today.”
Preemption repealer bills featured include reinstating local ordinances to ban styrofoam and plastic bags ban (SB 182/HB 6043), gun control ordinances (SB 134/HB 6009), rent stabilization efforts (HB 6013/SB 910), tree-trimming ordinances (HB 6077), telecommunication ordinances (SB 1848/HB 6075), building trust with immigrant communities (HB 6023), and local minimum wage and earned sick time ordinances (SB 1520/HB 6065). All of these local priorities have been preempted to the state, oftentimes following the passage of local ordidances that corporate special interests oppose. Several aggressive blanket-preemption bills are already moving through the legislative process, including HB 3, HB 305, and HB 113. SB 1674 by Sen. Farmer is another proactive measure, that would increase the passage threshold for preemption bills.
AFL-CIO, the American Heart Association, Equality Florida, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Florida Latina Advocacy Network, Local Progress, the New Florida Majority, Organize Florida, Sierra Club, SEIU Florida, the Laborers’ International Union of North America, Florida Local Unions 517, 630 and 1652, and SurfRiders Foundation stood in support of the effort.
Nonpartisan watchdog group Integrity Florida recently released report “Preemption Strategy — The Attack on Home Rule in Florida,” details how new, more aggressive types of preemption are increasingly used to weaken the power of local governments over vast areas of law and regulation — often at the behest of rich donors, businesses, and corporate lobbyists. These laws are designed to keep public health, equity, and safety standards low, and corporate profit margins high.
A statewide poll released late last year shows that Florida voters overwhelmingly trust and support their local governments and are wary of efforts from the legislature to intervene in local matters. The poll, conducted by Moore Information Group and commissioned by the Local Solutions Support Center (LSSC), found that 81% of voters agree that local elected officials should have the freedom to enact local measures that pertain to a community’s public safety, economy, and environment. 80% of respondents said that their local governments are more in-tune with local needs than the state legislature, and should be able to pass policies that reflect their community’s needs and values.