The following editorial was published in The Daily Sun on November 10, 2021.
OUR POSITION: When it comes to home rule, Gov. Ron DeSantis and GOP legislators can dish it out but they can’t take federal interference.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and the Legislature have made it clear to the Biden administration they want it to butt out of Florida’s business.
DeSantis and Moody filed suit last week — not their first — to stop the federal government from mandating businesses with 100 or more employees require them to get a COVID-19 vaccination or face weekly testing. The governor was especially fired up over the latest run-in with Biden’s team concerning its “overreach” into states’ rights.
Moody called the government’s actions “unlawful” and added it was a “complete and gross overreach.”
This is just the latest lawsuit and tirade against federal officials telling Florida what to do. First it was the fight over cruise ships whose companies wanted to make sure passengers and crews were vaccinated. DeSantis said butt out.
Then we have the ongoing fight over Florida school districts and mask mandates. DeSantis and Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran fined school boards that forced students to wear masks. The feds wanted to reimburse school board members and districts that lost money. DeSantis said butt out.
Many Floridians are likely proud of their governor’s stance. They like him telling the federal government that he makes the decisions in this state. Not them.
But we’re a little puzzled by the what’s-good-for-the-goose-is-not-good-for-the-gander approach. It comes off sounding a little hypocritical.
For example, we’re sure DeSantis would not want the Feds telling Florida how high it can raise its impact fees. After all, Florida would know best how bad that money is needed for local infrastructure projects.
But didn’t DeSantis and the Legislature tell county governments exactly how much they could raise impact fees?
And, no way would our Legislature put up with Congress telling them they could not ban tanker ships from Florida docks, even if they were damaging our pristine waters, tearing up the ocean floors and scaring away game fish.
Oops. Didn’t our own Legislature do that to the Key West even after citizens there voted overwhelmingly to limit the number of cruise ships that could dock there?
The mask mandates are another issue. Shouldn’t each county have the option to decide if its students needed to be protected from COVID by wearing a mask? In some counties the outbreak was much more serious. Their residents and health officials should have a better handle on that than Tallahassee. Just like DeSantis says Florida knows whether or not our schools should require masks.
And, there are so many more examples of the governor and Legislature overturning the idea of home rule by telling counties and cities what they can and can’t do.
Some other examples include:
- Not allowing Monroe County to ban certain types of sunscreen oil and lotion.
- Making decisions on how much and when people can fertilize their lawns.
- Setting overriding local rules on vacation rentals.
- Shooting down a ban on plastic straws.
- Telling local supervisors of elections how they should do their job by passing unneeded restrictions.
We could go on, but you get the point.
Tallahassee lawmakers have been attacking home rule for years and shrugging off any criticism for it.
But, let Washington try to tell Florida how to do things and there is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
We’re not saying all those lawsuits are bad. What we’re saying is practice what you preach on home rule.