March 19, 2017-
Right now, there are two bills filed in the Florida legislature that propose sweeping new restrictions on local governments. One (House Bill 17) would bar them from regulating “businesses, professions, and occupations,” the other (SB 1158), would expressly preempt “the regulation of matters relating to commerce, trade, and labor.” The broad language of the bills has local advocates up in arms and newspapers like the Naples Daily News asking whether “local regulations [are] a thing of the past.” The legislative session to discuss and advance the bills began March 7.
Though egregious, what may be most noteworthy about the bills is how ordinary they actually are. Bills like them have become commonplace in the United States. Local governments have become a battleground, and corporate interests seeking to dampen their influence have been proposing and passing bills like these for years. Countless local minimum wage hikes, worker protection bills, rent laws, police oversight initiatives, fossil fuel extraction bans and other progressive reforms have passed across the country since 2008. In Florida, local ordinances on wage theft, expanded paid leave, fracking, gun regulations and more have been central to the left’s platform. Now more than ever, going local has become a key way to make gains and resist — especially under Trump.