By Joe Pennisi, Charlotte County Dems writer
If you’re like me and most Floridians, you believe that governing is most efficient, and its policies are most responsive to our needs when it is conducted at the local level. Unfortunately, our Republican-controlled state legislature and Governor don’t agree. Together, they have accelerated a disturbing trend in recent years, taking to the state level many policy areas that have appropriately been left to local discretion in the past. In so doing, they are undermining the authority of our city and county governments and the will of the people.
In recent Tallahassee sessions, laws have been introduced and passed that limit local governments from regulating vacation rentals, prohibit bans on the use of plastic bags and sunscreens that could kill our coral reefs, punish cities that adopt gun restrictions, and preempt local land-use decisions and locally adopted minimum wage laws.
Let’s be clear about the primary reason behind these actions. Profitable corporations and powerful lobbyists like the NRA don’t want to have to comply with differing requirements across the many diverse communities and regions that make up the Sunshine State. By ignoring legitimate concerns raised by those of us who must live with the implications of the laws they pass, legislators not only ignore our diversity but also ensure that the interests protected are those of the donor class, not yours and mine.
The ultimate irony here is that these same state lawmakers complain loud and long when their policy prerogatives are stolen away by the federal government.
Home rule is not a gift bestowed upon us by the state legislature. Instead, it is embodied in Florida’s constitution, placed there by popular vote. So, the acts of the legislature are not only taking away our voices on individual issues, but also on the very concept of home rule and its important implications for all of us.
David Jones, our candidate for the Florida House, has made this issue a centerpiece of his campaign, recognizing that “local voices make the best choices”. In so doing, he has vowed to vote in our interests rather than the interest of lobbyists representing the powerful and well off. He deserves our enthusiastic support in the upcoming election. Vote for David Jones, our Democratic nominee for Florida House District 75.