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Proposed constitutional amendment would make state preemptions harder to pass

Lawmakers will consider a proposal this week that would block local bans of sunscreen.

It could be harder for state lawmakers to stop local governments from passing laws they disagree with under newly filed legislation.

Fort Lauderdale Democrat Sen. Gary Farmer filed a proposed Constitutional Amendment (SJR 1674) that would make approval of a preemption bill go from simple majority votes to two-thirds of both the House and Senate.

Because Farmer’s bill is a proposed constitutional amendment, it would also have to be approved by voters. It comes amid efforts by cities and counties to fend off legislative attempts to preempt local regulations.

As of December 10th, 16 preemption bills, 9 House and 7 Senate have been filed for the 2020 Legislative Session.

Both Republicans and Democrats have filed bills.

Some of those include local occupational licensing (HB 3), permitting standards for mobile home parks (HB 647), vacation rental properties (HB 1011) and home-based businesses (SB 778). The Senate Rules Committee this week is set to consider a controversial preemption proposal (SB 172) by Fleming Island Republican Sen. Rob Bradley that would block local regulation of over-the-counter drugs and cosmetics, including sunscreen. The bill was prompted by a Key West decision to ban sunscreen containing certain chemicals because of concerns of damage to coral reefs.

Integrity Florida, a government watchdog group, recently released a report outlining the state legislature’s heavy-handed strategy to limit the authority of local governments in regulating their own communities.

The report criticizes the influence lobbyists and special interests wield in advancing preemption legislation. The report cites the amount of money special interest groups like Associated Industries of Florida have spent. The group spent more than $11.6 million in the 2018 election cycle and has 27 registered lobbyists. The Florida Chamber of Commerce spent more $9 million and has 25 lobbyists. Florida Restaurant and Lodging has 17 lobbyists. 

These business groups argue that state preemptions are vital for consistency and to eliminate a “patchwork quilt” of regulations at the local level. 

Written By

Sarah Mueller has extensive experience covering public policy. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010. She began her career covering local government in Texas, Georgia and Colorado. She returned to school in 2016 to earn a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting. Since then, she’s worked in public radio covering state politics in Illinois, Florida and Delaware. If you'd like to contact her, send an email to sarah@floridapolitics.com.

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