Preemption of local government hiring preferences on public works projects advances in Senate
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 11/30/21-Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, chairs the House Judiciary Committee, Tuesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

'Sometimes we’re just not going to have the resources in any given community that are able to provide for all of our public works needs.'

Legislation to eliminate city and county ordinances imposing local hiring preferences for public works projects is headed to the Senate floor after passing through the Senate Rules Committee.

The bill (SB 742) expands the existing preemption in state law to include projects that use local and state funds, such as construction of new buildings, roads, sewer and water systems, or utilities substations. But it kicked off a pointed debate from critics contending it will suppress wages for contractors and limit opportunities for contract workers in rural areas.

“Small counties do not have a lot of large contractors,” Gadsden County Commissioner Brenda Holt told the panel. “So when contractors come in, if they’re not required to meet some parameters within the county, all that money leaves with them and then we cannot build up our vocational program and our students do not have an opportunity to work in those areas.”

Bill sponsor Sen. Erin Grall, a Vero Beach Republican, defended the measure.

“Sometimes we’re just not going to have the resources in any given community that are able to provide for all of our public works needs,” Grall said. “When we do that (impose local hiring preferences) we drive the cost of living in each and every one of these communities.”

Three Democrats (Sens. Victor Torres of Kissimmee, Rosalind Osgood of Tamarac and Shevrin Jones of Miami Gardens) and one Republican (Sen. Ileana Garcia of Miami) voted against the bill.

“We probably should take a step back and look at it from the perspective of our small counties and small cities who do not generate (a large amount) of revenue,” Jones said.

One Democrat who voted for the bill, Sen. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg, indicated he might switch his vote on the floor if changes aren’t made. He cited the history behind building Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, where he said African American-owned businesses were pushed out of the area and a local public housing project was torn down.

“We’ve got to get this right with the Tropicana dome — that 85 acres of land in the heart of midtown that’s about to be rebuilt to build a new Rays stadium,” Rouson said. “And the community has decided certain local preferences should be adhered to because of the broken promises to the community when they ripped up the gas plant area and built the dome and made a parking lot.”

The House version of the bill (HB 705) is ready to be heard on the floor in that chamber.

Gray Rohrer


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn