Poll: Nearly 2/3 Florida Voters Oppose State Legislature’s Efforts to Strip Cities and Counties of Existing Powers

Survey Offers Critical Evidence that Florida Voters Across Party Lines Value Local Authority to Respond to Local Needs with City or County Laws

Tallahassee, FL – Florida’s state legislature has introduced more than a dozen bills in 2019 that would strip cities and counties of a wide range of powers. Many of the bills are moving through the legislature. HB 3/SB 1748, for example, was introduced to ban cities and counties from adopting any regulation of businesses and invalidate countless existing local laws, including those that currently protect Floridians from discrimination and restrict the sale of tobacco products to young people. HB 847/SB 432 would expand the state’s existing ban on local minimum wage laws and local laws concerning employment benefits by now banning all local laws pertaining to any “employment conditions.” This expansion would impact wage theft ordinances and includes preemption of flexible and predictive scheduling ordinances, which do not exist in Florida.

A new poll demonstrates that Florida voters across party lines support local authority to adopt a wide range of policies, such as those that protect public health, the environment, and jobs. Florida voters clearly oppose the state legislature’s efforts to strip cities and counties of their local powers, and Florida legislators who approve such measures do so at the risk of losing voter support.

The poll of 752 Florida voters found that:

  • More than two in three (67%) voters agree that their city and county officials should generally be able to pass local laws to protect public health, the environment, and quality jobs when their community believes that statewide laws aren’t enough.
  • 61% of voters oppose bills that would strip cities and counties in Florida of many existing powers to address local issues.
  • 61% of voters are less likely to support their state representative or senator if they vote to strip their city or county of its local power to address a wide range of issues like public health, the environment, and job quality.
  • Nearly three in four (71%) Florida voters think cities and counties should be able to create programs to help workers recover their wages when their employer refuses to pay them what they are owed under state law.
  • 70% of voters think cities and counties should be allowed to regulate puppy mills.
  • 61% of voters think that cities and counties should be able to pass anti-discrimination laws when constituents demand better protection than what state laws provide.
  • Two in three (66%) Florida voters believe that cities and counties should be allowed to ban certain plastic bags in their communities in order to protect the environment.

“Florida voters across party lines recognize the value of local government and local democracy,” explained Daniella Levine Cava, Miami-Dade County Commissioner, District 8. “They know that statewide laws cannot reflect each community’s unique values and needs, and they want to preserve their ability to go to their city or county elected officials and ask for the protections they need, such as stronger protection for their environment through plastic bag bans or much-needed protection for the LGBTQ community from housing and employment discrimination.”

“For years, Florida’s state legislature has chipped away at local powers to prevent city and county officials from responding to their residents’ unique needs with local laws when statewide protections simply aren’t enough,” said Laura Huizar, Senior Staff Attorney with the National Employment Law Project. “This year has brought an exceptionally aggressive onslaught of bills that would do irreparable harm to local democracy in the state.”

“Session after session, Florida legislators are passing bills that weaken local democracy,” said Kim Haddow of the Local Solutions Support Center. “They have introduced and enacted some of the most sweeping, extreme laws designed to block local decisions they don’t agree with and to intimidate and punish local elected officials for doing their jobs—acting on the will and wishes of their communities.”


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