Travis Hutson files amendment addressing home rule concerns with preemption bill
Travis Hutson gets provocitave. Image via Colin Hackley.

Will this soften the blow to local governments?

Sen. Travis Hutson has filed an amendment to a controversial preemption bill that could soften the blow to home rule.

The amendment to the legislation (SB 280) addresses many of the concerns raised by local government advocates at a first committee stop.

“When an ordinance is arbitrary or unreasonable, we don’t want to see Floridians lose their rights and small business owners lose their livelihood as these cases languish in the court system. The bill gives priority to these cases, so they can be resolved as quickly as possible,” said Hutson, a Palm Coast Republican.

“My amendment will maintain those key provisions of the bill, while incorporating a great deal of feedback from local governments that we heard at the first committee stop and (from) those who have contacted me directly as I have been working on this bill. In particular, the League of Cities and the Association of Counties have played an important role, and we have worked to incorporate their suggestions.”

The legislation would still require counties and municipalities to provide a business impact estimate before passing local ordinances, but the amendment makes clear governments can outsource estimation to outside groups, including civic organizations like chambers of commerce.

Hutson also added to a list of exemptions for the estimate requirement. That now includes growth management ordinances and changes to building or fire codes, anything bringing local law into compliance with state law or to change a contract to include public or private grant assistance, ordinances related to issuing or financing debt or to adopting changes to budgets, and any local legislation.

The law also allows a legal avenue for businesses to sue governments to stop ordinances from going into effect. But Hutson’s amendment empowers local governments to lift any stay on enforcement if they win in court, even if they are waiting on an appeal.

The changes also include language intended to discourage frivolous lawsuits that serve only to delay enforcement of laws.

“We appreciate the open dialogue and sincere collaboration we’ve had with Chair Hutson and other stakeholders on SB 280. We are thankful to Chair Hutson for listening to the concerns of Florida’s cities,” said Casey Cook, legislative director at the Florida League of Cities. “As a result of this amendment, we now support this legislation, which reinforces that cities can continue to meet the needs of their communities while ensuring the partnership between municipalities and local business remains strong.”

The bill advanced through the Senate Community Affairs Committee on a 6-2 vote and will now come before the Rule Committee on Thursday.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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