FLORIDA – In response to the end of Florida’s 2023 legislative session, Local Progress Florida released the following statement:
“Local elected officials are uniquely positioned to address pressing community needs. As local leaders representing communities across Florida, we are appalled at the utter disregard for both our communities’ needs and our state leaders’ faith in our ability to address these needs during this year’s legislative session.
Instead of listening to our communities, the Florida state legislature catered to corporations and lobbyists – advancing bills like SB 170, which would essentially give corporations veto power over local governments and our communities’ priorities. And amid the worst affordable housing Florida has experienced in decades, rather than advancing bills like HB 1407 that protect renters, the Florida State Legislature advanced bills like HB 1417, which would gut any protections offered to tenants by local governments.
So much damage has already been done during this year’s legislative session. On behalf of local leaders across Florida, and the hundreds of thousands of everyday Floridians we represent, we call on Governor DeSantis to veto HB 1417 and SB 170, as he rightly did with similar SB 620 last year. Florida is a home rule state – it’s time we act like it.”
- SB 170: Preemption by Litigation: This bill would enable businesses to quash a broad swath of municipal ordinances through litigation, and thus, would alter the local legislative process and effectively deputize motivated private businesses to invalidate local lawmaking. It would apply to all municipal ordinances aside from seven narrow exceptions: 1) local ordinances required to comply with federal and state law, 2) ordinances related to refinancing debt, 3) ordinances related to the adoption or amendment of the local budget, 4) ordinances required to implement a contract, 5) emergency ordinances, 6) procurement ordinances, and 7) ordinances relating to land use, building codes or fire prevention codes. For applicable ordinances, there are three key elements. First, it would impose on municipalities and counties the requirement to produce a lengthy business impact statement for proposed ordinances. Second, businesses would have the right to sue the local government if the ordinance is expressly preempted or if the ordinance is “arbitrary and unreasonable.” The bill does not define this standard, presumably leaving it up to the court’s discretion. Third, businesses that prevail could recover up to $50,000 in attorney fees, but municipalities are unable to recover attorney fees even if they prevail. In 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed a similar bill, SB 620, stating, “the broad and ambiguous language of the bill will lead to both unintended and unforeseen consequences and costly litigation.”
- HB 1417: Residential Tenancies: This bill places the exclusive authority to regulate landlord-tenant law to the state, effectively preempting local governments from regulating residential tenancies and the landlord-tenant relationship. This includes, but is not limited to, including, to the screening process used by a landlord in approving tenancies; security deposits; rental agreement applications and fees associated with such applications; terms and conditions of rental agreements; the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant; disclosures concerning the premises, the dwelling unit, the rental agreement, or the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant; fees charged by the landlord; or notice requirements. It specifies that the act supersedes certain local regulations, and revises how much notice is required to terminate certain tenancies. Additionally, there’s no language in the bill that protects pre-existing ordinances, so enforcing those ordinances is likely to be preempted by this bill.