CDLS Op-Ed: State Preemption Hurts Local Values

This op-ed from Florida Local Elected Official Partners in the Campaign to Defend Local Solutions has been featured in the following outlets:

  • Tallahassee Democrat
  • Florida Politics
  • Orlando Rising
  • Preemption Watch - April 5, 2021 Newsletter
  • Tampa Bay Reporter
  • The Gainesville Sun

State Preemption Hurts Local Values

Among Thomas Jefferson’s many famous sayings is this: “The government closest to the people, serves the people best.”

Across our state and nation, that sentiment holds true for all who favor local control, whenever possible. But it seems as though our state lawmakers have forgotten this.

For the past few years, state legislators in Tallahassee have steadily eroded the ability of towns, villages, cities, and counties to govern. They’ve passed new laws to prevent citizens from having their say through local government. And now, they’re threatening to silence local voices with fines and other punishment.

It’s called preemption. And it’s a threat to our democracy.

State lawmakers don’t like when our communities pass ordinances to preserve quality of life, protect our environment, promote public safety, improve wages and sick leave, regulate utility infrastructure, development, and vacation rentals, and restrict threats to public health.

They don’t like when cities and counties govern according to their own values. So they strip local authority with ill-advised preemption.

Experts say these preemption bills are overly broad, waste taxpayer money, create confusion, and may be unconstitutional. An analysis by the National League of Cities shows this is a problem nationwide. And preemption comes with real consequences.

In recent years, Florida’s local governments have recouped millions in stolen wages for workers, created jobs with local hiring preferences, cleaned up neighborhoods, protected their communities’ character, and fostered innovation. Those local efforts would be struck down by state lawmakers hungry for power, disguised as “easing regulatory burdens.”

But you know better. When you vote in local elections, you’re voting for local problem solvers. You’re voting your values. You know what’s best for our communities — not out-of-touch state legislators, hundreds of miles away.

And you certainly know better than unaccountable lobbyists who push these bad ideas through Tallahassee. Shadowy special interests know it’s easier to get one state legislature to do their bidding than 67 counties and 410 municipalities.

We stand with you, the people — not corporate bottom lines.

We’re your mayors, commissioners, and councilmembers. We’re your neighbors, small business owners, native Floridians, immigrants, and veterans. And we’re the people you’ve trusted to keep the lights on in the places we all call home.

That’s why we’ve joined the Campaign to Defend Local Solutions, a non-partisan, grassroots coalition to protect our residents from state preemption. We’re encouraging people to learn how preemption threatens local control and local voices — and to sign up to fight back at DefendLocal.com.

Together, we can send a message to our state lawmakers that local communities want local solutions to local problems — not a legislature controlled by special interests.


Andrew Gillum
Mayor, City of Tallahassee

Dan Daley
Vice Mayor, City of Coral Springs

Charlie Latham
Mayor, City of Jacksonville Beach

Chris Arbutine
Mayor, City of Belleair Bluffs

Kevin Ruane
Mayor, City of Sanibel

Harry Dressler
Mayor, City of Tamarac

Jack Seiler
Mayor, City of Fort Lauderdale

Jim Simmons
Mayor, Town of Melbourne Beach

Joe Barkley
Vice Mayor, City of Belleair Bluffs

Lisa Wheeler-Bowman
City Council Vice-Chair, City of St. Petersburg

Marni Sawicki
Mayor, City of Cape Coral

Matthew Surrency
Mayor, City of Hawthorne

Michael Udine
County Commissioner, Broward County

Russ Barley
Mayor, City of Freeport