Tampa Bay Times: States Limit Local Control

State limits local control

St. Petersburg is a city making incredible progress, attracting entrepreneurs, millennials, businesses and new residents every day. I believe part of that is due to the City Council’s common sense local ordinances that reflect our community’s values.

We’ve introduced apprenticeship and hard-to-hire requirements for larger local construction projects. We’ve prohibited fracking and enforced our wage theft ordinance, returning thousands in unpaid wages to workers. We’ve passed a strong anti-discrimination ordinance that is a key part of our city’s identity as a welcoming city. And our city, along with 43 others, passed summer fertilizer restrictions that reduced the spread of red tide — before the state prevented other cities from doing so.

As a city, there’s more that we’d like to do to keep residents and visitors safe and healthy, but our Florida Legislature has pre-empted us. We’d like to ban smoking in public, recreational areas. We’d like to amend our vacation rental ordinance, and prohibit polystyrene and plastic bags that pollute our pristine waterways. But lawmakers in Tallahassee have decided they know best, and routinely prevent cities and counties from passing local laws that our citizens want.

This is frustrating to everyone who pays local taxes and expects local representation. Fortunately, organizations like the Campaign to Defend Local Solutions and the Florida League of Cities are working to hold state legislators accountable. But those legislators would be wise to remember that the government closest to the people governs best.

Karl Nurse, St. Petersburg

The writer is a St. Petersburg City Council member.

Read more in today’s Tampa Bay Times, here.