January 8, 2020

Editorial: Stop Legislature from usurping home rule [Gainesville Sun]

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

The Florida Legislature seems determined to stop local governments in the state from doing much of anything other than cutting taxes and passing proclamations.

Lawmakers have been working for years to weaken the home-rule power of local governments though so-called preemption laws. That trend has accelerated in recent years as lawmakers, backed by big contributions from corporate lobbyists, have sought to usurp local control over issues ranging from sunscreen bans to business regulations.


A measure introduced for the second straight year aims to make it more difficult to raise taxes on the local level. The legislation, House Joint Resolution 477, would put a state constitutional amendment on the ballot that would require any city, county or school board to have a two-thirds majority to approve a tax increase.

The measure comes after another state constitutional amendment was passed that requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature for any increase in a state tax or fee. The nonpartisan Florida Policy Institute has published multiple reports cautioning that the requirement puts communities in a precarious position during the next recession or after a natural disaster, preventing such things as food assistance and temporary housing from being provided.

'It goes without saying that allowing a 34% minority to dictate investment decisions is dangerous, particularly in the face of Florida’s projected revenue shortfall in the coming years,' Florida Policy Institute CEO Sadaf Knight [emphasis added] wrote in a column for Palm Beach Post.


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