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Should State Legislators Override Local Decisions? Cities And Counties Say No.

Florida Capitol with dolphin statues jumping in front of tall new capitol tower.
Nick Evans
Students from all over will be moving to Tallahassee for fall classes. That's causing some FSU students to worry that the influx of people could create an uptick in coronavirus cases.

Organizations are asking state legislators to stop preemption regulations. 

Preemption gives the state legislature the ability to limit or override local government rules. The policy has caused both lawmakers and local governments to bump heads for years in turf battles.

“The state of Florida doesn’t like it when the federal government mandates something for them, so why should it be wise for the state of Florida to mandate something for the local level, the local jurisdiction,” says Mark Landreth, the Florida Director of the American Heart Association. 

Organizations met at the Capitol Wednesday to speak against the policy. The Florida Immigrant Coalition’s Ida Eskamani calls preemption a strategic way to block community opinions through mandated regulations.

“We’ve seen this onslaught of bills this session designed to limit the voter’s voice, centralize power here in Tallahassee, adopt a one size fits all mentality in Florida, and it’s supported always by the same special interest who are looking out for their bottom line and profit margins,” she said.

Eskamani’s twin sister is Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando). The politician says with 412 municipalities and 67 different counties in the state, preemption isn’t in the best interest of the public.

“It’s a lot easier to operate with one flat policy versus than every local municipalities having their own ordinance, so I understand the incentive but it often times strips away the characteristics of our communities and preempts local control, local home rule and their ability to make these decisions,” Eskamani said. 

However, Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R-Clermont) says sometimes local governments abuse their power.

“Some cities and counties continue to create ordinances in that area, they’re essentially rogue they decide to do whatever it is they want to do."

Florida lawmakers are considering preemption measures on plastic straws, sunscreen, Airbnb, and more.

Gabrielle Bolden is a fourth year broadcast journalism major attending Florida A&M University from Jacksonville, FL. Bolden is an aspiring multimedia producer. She previously served as a producer for News 20 at Five airing to at least 80,000 households, creating engaging content weekly. She pitched and wrote articles as a staff reporter for The FAMUAN Newspaper. She also produced the 2018 Election Night Special for News 20 at Five, covering state and local election races. Bolden interned for WCTV-Eyewitness News (CBS) producing a multimedia project covering the devastating wildfires in Eastpoint, Florida.