Dec. 19, 2017
The Florida Constitution is clear: It protects the important principle of home rule, which recognizes that cities and counties are often best positioned to address their own needs.
As the Palm Beach Post editorial page recently explained, “local officials are better equipped to respond quickly to local residents. … Tampa is not Tallahassee. Monticello is not Miami. And Jupiter is not Jacksonville.”
Unfortunately, some members of the Legislature appear to have forgotten this bedrock tenet of the Florida Constitution. Many bills filed for consideration in the 2018 legislative session have abandoned the time-honored belief in home rule for a Tallahassee-knows-best philosophy.
This unwelcome approach has produced some deep dives into the weeds of local governance.
Perhaps most emblematic of this concerning trend are proposals to ban local governments from preserving trees.
This would be especially bizarre in Jacksonville, where 76 percent of Duval County voters adopted a tree protection charter amendment in November 2000.
The Jacksonville City Council said it best in a recent resolution: “Such bills are … contrary to the view often stated by members of the Legislature that the government that is the closest to the people is the government that is best.”
In addition to thwarting local popular will, Tallahassee’s top-down thinking threatens to stymie progress in revitalizing Downtown Jacksonville. Four bills in particular should be of concern to those who care about our urban core.