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The Importance of Home Rule

By Alex Lama, Commissioner

(Thursday, April 1, 2021) – At the end of January 2021, I watched with alarm as State legislators introduced bills that intend to erode local government’s abilities to protect and improve their communities. The relentless pursuit of certain Tallahassee legislators to exert power over municipalities’ own affairs is distressing and should remind local leaders and communities that we must be steadfast in protecting our Home Rule rights.

Home Rule provisions in the Florida Constitution give municipalities powers to deal with local issues as elected officials and residents best see fit for the community. In essence, we know what solutions and ideas are best for our own home.

Two troubling bills are being considered during the 2021 legislative sessions. Senate Bill 522 and its companion, House Bill 219, will preempt regulation of short-term rentals to the State, effectively annulling the home rule right for municipalities to enact regulations on short-term rental management. House Bill 403 and Senate Bill 266 will take away a city’s right to regulate and license home-based businesses, basically allowing for unregulated home businesses that will affect the balance between business and residential use.

Seeing how both bills could negatively affect the quality of life of our residents, the City Commission passed resolutions in strong opposition. Municipalities also have the support of friendly state legislators who filed amendments restricting the preemptions. These resolutions and amendments are not anti-short-term rental or anti-home-business. These are meant to defend the right of a local municipality and its residents to decide what regulations and solutions are best for us.

I invite you to visit floridaleagueofcities.com/sign-up-for- league-publications to sign up for legislative alerts and learn how to oppose or support bills that will affect our quality of life.