Don’t tread on us, local officials in Broward County told state lawmakers Tuesday.
Municipalities within Broward County are adamant that the state should respect Home Rule in legislation going forward. And those legislators from the Broward County delegation were a friendly audience when it came to issues of local control.
Home Rule powers are enshrined in the Florida Constitution and give discretion to local governments to pass measures without prior state approval.
But as Coral Springs Commissioner Dan Daley said at Tuesday’s meeting, many of Broward’s local officials haven’t given up their desire to push back.
“The overall, overarching goal for the League of Cities continues to be the protection of Home Rule,” said Daley, who has previously served as the president of the Broward League of Cities.
Daley and other local leaders went on to advocate for legislative priorities laid out by the League late last month.
The overarching theme of those goals?
“Keep it local,” said Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis.
“We can’t continue to fight. Because one city did something wrong, out of 412 cities, you can’t punish us all.”
Ortis argued the divide between the state and local level serves his constituents best.
“You have your positions in the state Legislature, and we have ours in the cities,” he said to the Broward delegation.
Those state legislators on hand, such as state Rep. Joe Geller of House District 100 and state Sen. Gary Farmer of Senate District 34, were receptive to that message.
State Rep. Kristin Jacobs of House District 96 also encouraged the county’s local officials to continue their push for autonomy.
“It’s really important that you all are connecting with the Association of Counties on this united front on Home Rule,” Jacobs said.
“Because otherwise, there’s enough people up there who never served in local government and don’t understand how we work and why.
“And without saying anything negative to being a freshman, I’ve watched freshman come in and be corrupted by leadership right off the bat, that, ‘The cities don’t really know what they’re doing. The state’s much more expert in this.’ And you watch them cave one after the other after the other.”
One of those freshman representatives, Chip LaMarca of House District 93, said his experience at the local level will prevent that from happening.
“As we can see from all the way up to the top office in the land, that you don’t have to start at one specific spot and go north,” LaMarca said.
“But I think it’s helpful. I think it’s helpful to have some city experience and helpful to then gain some experience at the county level. And then, should you decide you want to go to the state legislature, you’ll have these issues ingrained in who you are.”
Democrats have accused state Republicans of overreaching when it comes to local issues in recent years. But LaMarca, who will be the only Republican House member whose district lies fully within Broward County, said his constituents and local groups lobbied him not to do the same.
“One thing everyone said was, ‘Listen, good luck. Don’t forget about local government. Don’t forget about Home Rule,'” LaMarca recalled.
“Home Rule turned 50 this year. So did I. So, I grew up with Home Rule.”