Local leaders concerned about state preemption

Published: Mar. 7, 2017 at 5:48 PM EST
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By: Mariel Carbone

March 7, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The 2017 Legislative Session began Tuesday, but some of the issues lawmakers are expected to take up over the next 60 days have local elected officials concerned.

"Every year with the legislature, cities, counties, school boards, local governments, have to fight what's known as preemptions; where the state puts into place things that prevent us from governing on a local level," said City Commissioner Gil Ziffer. "This year is no different, but there are some that are really even beyond the pale of comparison from past years."

One of those includes House Bill 17, which would take the management of businesses out of the hands of the city.

"That's a scary thought," said Ziffer.

City Commissioner Curtis Richardson said they are working to make sure that bill doesn't pass.

"Government is best that's closest to the people and we certainly don't want an overreaching state government," said Richardson.

Although local leaders acknowledge that some issues remain better dealt with at the state level, balance is essential.

"We know there are some things the state needs to do, there are some things locals need to do. But, right now the tone that's being set is stripping our ability to govern how our community wants us to," said County Commissioner Kristin Dozier.

Dozier said she is most concerned about the overreach in economic development; plus limiting local regulation of taxes.

The Florida Association of Counties and Florida League of Cities- both of which include members from our local government- will hold legislative days over the next two months to lobby for home rule.

But, Ziffer said residents can take a stand, too.

"If you have an interest and you know one of our local legislators, give them a call, send them an email, go see them. And talk to them about what's happening," said Ziffer.

Aside from concern over preemption laws, both city and county leaders have specific initiatives they are hoping to receive funding for.

On the county side, Dozier said they are looking for funding for water quality projects and infrastructure projects. As well as for economic development programs including Leon Works, and for the Entrepreneurial Excellence Program.

For the City of Tallahassee, leaders are hoping to obtain funding for the youth summer jobs program, funding for community center generators for emergencies, underground utilities, and infrastructure projects like Capital Circle.