Democrats Rep. Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum are speaking out against preemption policies. They’re pushing back against what they view as quote “the war on local communities.”
Jones is lashing out against attempts to restrict the power of local governments. He claims preemption – blocking cities and counties from passing local ordinances – leads to lower wages, reduced worker benefits and less local hiring. He also claims preemption stifles democracy and silences local voices.
"This is called superpreemption and it chills democracy at the local level," says Jones. "This is contrary to our ideas of local control, freedom of speech, and a vesting of powers of our citizens to participate in a democratic process.”
Mayor Gillum, a democratic candidate for governor, has been a longtime advocate for local rights. He has pushed back in the past against laws that restrict the power of local governments. He says Republicans are working against the will of the people.
“And now because it has been considered by the party in control – the party who once said that government is best when it is closest to the people – when they get to Tallahassee decide to betray that very ideal,” says Gillum.
Rich Templin of the Florida AFL-CIO said that bypassing local ordinances opens Tallahassee to corporate interests and no longer works for the people. He said the will of the people rests with local government.
“The Florida Legislature has become a one-stop shop for corporate special interests,” Templin says.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Gillum have clashed in the past over preemption policies. Corcoran is an outspoken advocate for preempting local laws. In a speech last August, Corcoran said governments create a “patchwork quilt” of policies that are unsustainable and bog down businesses in regulations.
“Every year it’s something we can’t even fathom or conceive the stuff that they come up with at the local government level," says Corcoran. "But the point is they are where the fights are.”
Additionally, Corcoran says he believes the Constitution enumerates certain powers to the federal government and the rest lies with the states. It’s up to the states to dole out power to local governments, but the final decision remains with state lawmakers.
There are a number of “preemption bills” being passed through the Legislature this session. These measures will force cities to comply with federal immigration law, place Community Redevelopment Agencies under the purview of the Legislature, and block ordinances that regulate vacation rentals.
Lawmakers will begin voting on some of the bills this week – placing the fight for local governments at the heart of the 2018 session.