Tampa Bay Newspapers,
Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long is concerned about home rule authority and the separation of powers as it pertains to local governments’ ability to regulate firearms. Long brought the matter to the Commission June 5 and asked County Attorney Jewel White to present information on other municipalities and counties that are filing lawsuits against the state’s preemption of local ordinances regulating firearms. The State Legislature “enhanced” the preemption of firearms and ammunition in 2011 by “striking the existing limited exemptions and including specific penalties for violations of preemption,” according to a memo from Managing Assistant County Attorney Christy Donovan sent to commissioners May 25.
According to Donovan’s memo, prohibitions and penalties include:
• Civil fines up to $5,000 against elected or appointed local government officials under whose jurisdictions a knowing and willful violation, through the adoption of an improper local ordinance or administrative rule, occurred;
• The express prohibition against using public funds to defend or reimburse “the unlawful conduct of any person found to have knowingly and willfully violated” the preemption;