Naples Daily News Editorial Board
Naples Daily News
Jan. 8, 2018
What do Naples and Miami have in common? What about Duval County (population 925,000), Collier County (population 360,000) and Baker County (population 28,000)? Marco Island and Clewiston? Bonita Springs and Orlando?
If you’re struggling for answers, you might want to ask members of the Legislature who are advocating that one size fits all for Florida’s 67 counties and 400-plus municipalities. In 2017, some lawmakers engaged in a power-hungry assault on “home rule,” a principle established in the Florida Constitution in 1968.
“During the 2017 legislative session, we saw attacks on home rule that we haven’t seen in almost 10 years,” a Florida Association of Counties report says.
The biggest affront came in proposals to move business regulation and permitting responsibility to Tallahassee. There was even a micro-meddling proposal to force uniform election dates on municipalities, regardless of whether they already have a home-rule charter establishing these dates.
Some of the very lawmakers sure to grouse about Washington, D.C., telling the state what to do have turned around and advocated bills pre-empting cities and counties from regulating hydraulic fracturing (fracking) sites, ride-hailing services, vacation rentals, drones, wireless antennas in rights of way and gas station signs, as examples.
Before the constitution was changed 50 years ago, the Legislature had to pass individual bills to provide specific regulatory authority to a local government. The Association of Counties says there were more than 2,000 local bills before 1968; the number plummeted to 212 in 1975.
How would that process play out today? The Legislature, which is supposed to meet for 60 days, has earned the reputation of pushing decisions off until the last week, days or hours of each session.