February 8, 2022

TALLAHASSEE, FL — Today, local elected officials across Florida sounded the alarm on the dangerous bills being debated during this legislative session. Dozens of bills undermining local democracy have been introduced this year; many — like SB 620 / HB 569: Ending Local Freedoms Act — are moving quickly through the legislative process. The officials, who are all members of Local Progress, underscored the importance of protecting local democracy and home rule in order to ensure that the needs of communities across the state are prioritized.

“I’m proud to stand with local leaders fighting to put the power back in the hands of the people who know their communities best,” said Representative Anna Eskamani, whose office sponsored the press event. “We find ourselves at the intersection of a housing, economic, and climate crisis. That’s why I’m urging my colleagues in the legislature to honor our constitutional right to home rule and support the Restoring Local Freedoms Act. Our communities want, need, and deserve the freedom to enact local policies that improve their lives.” 

“Across our state, residents find themselves increasingly unable to afford a home. Our communities can no longer afford Florida” said Tallahassee City Commissioner Jack Porter. “With critical housing measures – like rent control – preempted by the state, local governments can’t pass the local safeguards we need to protect renters and increase affordable housing. Now is the time to repeal preemption of rent control and stop dangerous bills like HB 537 / SB 884, which would remove long-standing protections of security deposits in Florida law by allowing landlords to charge and pocket an unlimited fee in lieu of traditional deposits.”

“HB 569 / SB 620 is one of the most damaging, anti-local control bills this session. The Ending Local Freedoms Act is another attack on home rule, that would that would allow businesses to quash a broad swath of local laws from regulation of pill mills to responsible housing laws and other community enhancement ordinances through litigation costly to our residents simply if they perceive them to be arbitrary or unreasonable,” said Hallandale Beach Commissioner Sabrina Javellana. “With the passage of this bill, local governments will surely be handcuffed from enacting many innovative solutions their constituents are seeking.”

“The Florida legislature has taken a page out of the Texas abortion ban playbook in a disguisting and unconstitutional attempt to undermine reproductive rights and access to safe and legal abortions,” said advocate and former Gainesville Commissioner Gail Johnson. “We all know this is a distraction from the real work that state legislators should be doing right now. Abortion is healthcare and a human right. Period.”

“We are in the midst of a climate crisis, and our state continues to ignore and exacerbate the issue. Bills like SB 1078 would end soil and water conservation districts as we currently know them, requiring members to be in the agriculture business, a move tantamount to the fox guarding the hen house,” said Broward County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor Alissa Jean Schafer. “At the same time, anti-rooftop solar bills SB 1024 and HB 741 written by our state’s largest utility, Florida Power & Light, would decimate Florida’s growing rooftop solar industry and result in the loss of thousands of local jobs.”

“Every session, the GOP-controlled state legislature continues to further chip away at local democracy by undermining home rule and stripping communities of their collective power,” said Local Progress Deputy Organizing Director Francesca Menes. “Republicans in the legislature – who are beholden to corporate donors and special interest groups – need to get out of the way of local governments who are championing local solutions.” 

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Local Progress and Local Progress Action are a movement of local elected officials advancing a racial and economic justice agenda through all levels of local government. We are elected leaders who build power with underrepresented communities, share bold ideas and policy among our network, and fight to reshape what is possible in our localities all across the country.