Two weeks ago, members of Local Progress organized and mobilized our membership to take action. We were courageous – we took a stand and supported our partner Planned Parenthood as they advanced the fight to protect reproductive health in the state of Florida. Over 60 current and former federal, state and local elected officials – including 20 Local Progress members – signed on to an amicus brief, which will be filed with the Florida Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v. Florida, the upcoming case challenging Florida’s 15-week abortion ban (HB5).
The brief focuses on how restrictions on abortion access strongly harm people from marginalized communities, including people of color and low-income individuals, and how HB5’s 15-week abortion restrictions further compound these disparities.
Over the past 15 years, the Florida legislature has consistently chipped away at the authority of local governments through abusive state preemption. At a time when Floridians are suffering from unprecedented inflation rates, ongoing public health threats and a housing affordability crisis, all levels of government need every tool available to tackle this crisis. Rather than interfering in local governments’ ability to meet their communities’ needs, state leaders should pass strong statewide policies for families and workers across the state. These statewide protections should serve as a floor or set of minimum standard protections across the state.
The 2023 legislative session is off to a rocky start. There have been many preemptions bills filed this session, which would restrict and/or prevent local government’s authority. These bills are on the fast track – from the Ending Local Freedoms bill (SB 170 / HB 1515), to the many housing preemption bills, including rent control (SB 102 / HB 627) and tenant protections (SB 1586 / HB 1417), preemption of water quality and pollution control (SB 1240 / HB 1197), state interference of local budgets for community ID programs (SB 1718 / HB 1617) and so much more.
The Local Progress Florida Organizing Committee members will be in Tallahassee speaking with state legislators about what our communities want and need – particularly around housing, worker’s rights and public education. We know we are a critical voice in protecting home rule and reminding state leaders why communities are best placed to decide local policy priorities.
If you’ll be in Tallahassee and are interested in joining us, let me know! We also have resources we can share to help you prepare for any meetings you have with your legislators.
Can’t make it to Tallahassee? You can still drive pressure online! Follow @LocalProgress and help amplify what local leaders and community partners across the state are doing.
The “Ending Local Freedoms” bill is a very concerning bill that re-emerged from last session. A version of this bill passed in 2022, but Local Progress Florida members organized a veto campaign, and we alongside local elected officials across the state, successfully moved Governor Ron DeSantis to veto the bill.
As written, SB 170 / HB 1515 encourages lawsuits by for-profit businesses against local taxpayers’ interests if an ordinance is deemed ‘arbitrary or unreasonable’ without providing any clarity on what those terms mean. It essentially gives corporations veto power over local governments and community priorities. This bill does not allow localities to collect attorney’s fees, and there are no protections against frivolous litigation filed simply for the purpose of stalling the effect of properly passed local ordinances.
Take action today as we lift up our concerns with the legislation to Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and House Speaker Paul Renner. Sign on here.
LP just announced the formation of our very first School Board Steering Committee! In partnership with the LP team and partners, the steering committee will guide the work of the school board cohort moving forward, bringing a diverse range of experiences and expertise to build a shared agenda. If you’re a school board member and want to get plugged in, reach out to Josh Acevedo, LP’s School Boards Campaign Organizer. There will also be a school board workshop on March 29 where we’ll dig into community schools – you can register here for that!
📅 In 2023, we’re working on recruiting the largest delegation of values-aligned local elected officials from Florida to join us in St. Louis, MO for our National Convening!
We look forward to keeping you updated and hope to see you in Tallahassee!