Gillum speaks out against state's "war on cities"

Published: Jan. 11, 2018 at 3:39 PM EST
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By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News

January 11, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)-- Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum spoke out against what he called a "war on cities," Thursday.

Under his campaign, Defend Local Solutions, Gillum and several others spoke out against proposed bills that would preempt local government. Preemption is when a state law blocks local government from passing their own ordinances on the matter.

"It chills democracy at the local levels," said State Representative Shevrin Jones. "This is contrary to our ideals of local control, freedom of speech and investing the power of our citizens to participate in a democratic process."

"When you say that a community can't go beyond that minimum to meet whatever the needs are of that community, it becomes suppressive to those communities," said Gillum.

Gillum said cities like Tallahassee have a lot to lose if preemptive bills are passed.

"If the Legislature preempts us on water quality, that impacts the community. If they say we can't create regulations around growth and development or sign ordinances, that impacts our city," said Gillum. "So we need to remind the Legislature, and remind our community, that we're all in this fight. Sometimes it feels removed because it's the state Capitol. But, the repercussions of these decisions show up in every day decisions."

Preemption bills up in 2018 include HB 9 and SB 308, which deals with sanctuary cities and would force local communities to enforce federal deportation efforts and strip local government of state funding for failing to comply; HB 17 and SB 432 dealing with community redevelopment agencies, which would require any new CRA's to be formed by special acts of the Legislature as opposed to the city itself; and SB 573 which addresses tree trimming and preempts tree ordinances, allowing anyone to cut down a tree.

The Campaign to Defend Local Solutions was created in 2017 after Gillum and several other city leaders were personally sued by the gun lobby for an ordinance they voted not to repeal.

That ordinance, which prohibits shooting guns in city parks, was technically preempted by state gun laws, and had not been enforced in about a decade. The First District Court of Appeals rejected the lawsuit which was filed by Florida Carry and the Second Amendment Foundation.