LET US RULE OURSELVES Once upon a time, conservatives stood for the principal of home rule, meaning that communities had the right to establish their own ordinances and thereby create and govern the city and towns in which they chose to live.
Conservatives wanted less government control at the federal and state levels. They wanted to see the rights of the individual preserved and unencumbered by regulations and bureaucrats.
This was then. The conservatives today are very different or, at least, those in Florida state government are.
The Florida Legislature is about jobs, incentives to create jobs, education systems that create jobs and cities that create jobs. Our lawmakers are about helping businesses grow, not communities. The corporate CEOs are more important than individuals.
Our role and that of our cities is to not interfere and pay for the incentives the corporations demand. Anything that hampers business is viewed as evil or, worse, liberal and progressive.
Some Florida cities would like to see their communities and their city vendors pay a livable wage and health benefits for employees. Residents in Orange County have been fighting to get an ordinance in place that would require earned sick pay for workers.
Florida lawmakers have decided that can’t happen, not even if the residents want it. House Republicans passed earlier this month House Bill 655 that would prevent local governments from requiring vendors applying for contracts to offer things such as a living wage or domestic-partner benefits for workers. Similar legislation is in the state Senate.
We saw similar pre-emptive legislation regarding firearm ordinances. Florida law prohibits localities from regulating firearms, other than with regards to zoning laws, Two years ago, Governor Rick Scott signed a bill that established penalties for cities and counties that ignored the law. The penalties included fines, removal from public office and termination of employment.
When the law went into effect, local governments scrambled to remove any such laws from their books. Santa Rosa County found itself unable to establish any sound ordinances to deal with a shooting range in a residential area.
The same thing happened with fertilization regulations. Led by local state Rep. Clay Ingram, the Florida Legislature did away with the counties’ power to regulate fertilizer sales in their communities.
At some point, this interference with home rule needs to stop. A community should have the right to determine how it wants to live. Citizens and businesses can move to or from those cities and counties as best suits them.
State government needs to butt out.