Our country was founded on the value of “we, the people” – the idea that we hold power and have a say in the governing of our communities. Floridians alone are tasked with selecting who makes up our government and how our community should be run. But state mandates proposed in Tallahassee would further undermine our ability to freely govern our communities, instead allowing corporations and their big teams of lawyers to run our communities. For years now, some lawmakers in Tallahassee have been all too happy to acquiesce to big corporate interests.
A new round of bills continues this troubling trend of shifting power to un-elected, profit-driven interests that can undermine the will of Floridians and threaten our local freedoms. We are facing an attack from Tallahassee politicians for the second year in a row. Just like last year’s failed bill called the “Ending Local Freedoms Act,” there is another version being proposed this session. Senate Bill 170 / House Bill 1515 would limit the power of municipal leaders and expose them to big corporations that can use litigation to veto local laws. These bills are broad enough to cover most decisions made by a city’s leadership, and they pose a threat to local control on issues such as fair wages for public contract workers, protection of sea turtles, prevention of animal cruelty, and improved access to affordable housing.
These bills would strip away our local freedoms and give corporations more control over our communities. The purpose of these bills is to prevent city officials from carrying out the desires of their constituents and to undermine our local freedoms. As a result, taxpayer funds will be squandered as cities are compelled to repeatedly defend their decisions against corporate interference or the opposition of a single, narrow interest group that disagrees with local laws. Ultimately, the consequence will be a lower standard of living for residents and a violation of our local freedoms.
Of course, when local communities collaborate to develop solutions for their issues and implement them, the state should be thrilled, right? Oh wait, that’s not the case in Florida. We’re at a crossroads here, folks. We can relinquish our right to govern our communities or take a stand against these incessant attacks on our local autonomy and freedoms. As the legislature sends this pair of bills to the Governor’s desk, do reach out to Governor DeSantis and request that he veto SB170 / HB1515.