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News Summary

Pre-emption, a question of who's the boss

Publication Date: 2016-01-19
  • Author:James Call
  • Publication:Democrat Capitol Reporter

The state legislature is meeting until March 11 and that has local governments looking anxiously at the state capitol. Lawmakers have filed more than 20 bills seeking to pre-empt local authority on issues including oil and gas regulations, construction standards for abortion clinics and whether a town can declare itself a sanctuary city.

Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox said he is stunned by how Florida lawmakers object to any federal intrusion, then issues mandates to governments under their jurisdiction.

"We hear from state leaders we don't like what the federal government is doing with Medicare, we don't like what the federal government is doing with immigration, we don't want high speed rail," said Maddox. "Yet they have no trouble saying to cities, counties and school boards do these things this way when the decision should be made at the local level."...

His other pre-emption bill allows cities and counties to enact stricter anti-smoking laws than the ones on the state's books.

"Smoking is one of the significant health hazards that we have, and some local governments say they would like to have more control to protect children, to protect those who may be in open air restaurants," said Altman. "I think it is an area where we do need more local control."

Maddox and groups like the Florida League of Cities say there is a need for more local control in many areas besides smoking regulations. Maddox argued the government closest to the people is in the best position to make laws reflecting a community's values...

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