State-level preemption laws passed by Tallahassee politicians are threatening to turn Florida into a homogenous state designed to benefit big corporations but hurt its residents. Under preemption, the state government takes away decision-making power from local governments, making it easier for corporations to have their way in a state with a population of over 21 million people. However, this approach fails to acknowledge that the government closest to the people governs best.
The idea of preemption is not new. It’s been around for decades and is often used to establish consistency across different parts of a state. However, in recent years, preemption laws have been expanded and applied to areas beyond traditional subjects such as minimum wage or environmental regulations. For instance, in Florida, preemption has been used to limit the ability of local governments to regulate vacation rentals, prohibit plastic bags, and pass zoning laws. The Florida Association of Counties is watching 58 preemption bills that have been introduced for this legislative session. Here are preemption bills that we are tracking and driving our membership to communicate with their lawmakers.
Preemption is not only an attack on local control but also on democracy itself. The most basic idea of democracy is that the people should have the power to decide what is best for their communities. This includes the power to make decisions that are tailored to the unique needs and circumstances of their communities. However, preemption laws take that power away from local communities and give it to the state government, which is often influenced by special interests, including corporations.
While preemption laws may seem like a way to simplify and streamline regulation, they actually make it harder for local communities to address the issues that are important to them. For example, a city or county may want to pass a law that would prohibit certain types of development in an environmentally sensitive area. However, if preemption laws are in place, the state government can overturn the local law, even if it’s something that the community wants and supports.
Preemption also undermines the idea of local experimentation, which is an important feature of American democracy. Local governments should be able to try out new policies and approaches, and if they are successful, other communities can learn from them and adopt them as well. However, preemption laws prevent local governments from experimenting and limit their ability to innovate.
It’s important to note that being against preemption is not anti-business. In fact, celebrating innovative businesses is a core component of supporting local control. When local communities have the power to make decisions that are tailored to their unique needs and circumstances, it creates a more vibrant and diverse business environment. It allows for experimentation, innovation, and the development of new ideas that can benefit both businesses and residents. By rejecting preemption and supporting local control, we can create a more resilient and thriving Florida, where the voices of the people and the needs of the community are the driving force behind our policies and regulations.