As the CDC urged both vaccinated and unvaccinated people in areas with high COVID-19 transmission rates (which covers most of Florida) to wear masks, Florida’s cities and counties are left with their hands tied after the Legislature passed a DeSantis priority bill which eliminated their ability to effectively enforce their own mask mandates. Today, State Senator Gary Farmer announced that he will file a bill to prevent future blatant and dangerous overreaches by the state government.
Senator Farmer’s proposal would create a ballot measure to amend the State Constitution to require a supermajority (two-thirds) vote in both legislative chambers in order to preempt actions by counties and municipalities. While Senator Farmer has filed this bill in previous years, the proposal has grown increasingly relevant following a slew of preemptions passed in the 2021 Legislative Session, including laws that limit the ability of counties and municipalities to respond to public health emergencies such as COVID-19.
“This past session was particularly brutal for home rule in Florida. We witnessed bill after bill pass through both chambers that stripped our local governments of their ability to address the unique challenges that face their communities. This kind of legislation is now posing a direct threat to the health and safety of the people of Florida. Thanks to these new preemptions our local officials are now forced to choose between protecting their people and violating state law. That’s not acceptable, and had they required a supermajority to become law the measures would never have passed. Considering the dangerous position that preemption has put us in, I think that it’s clear that the people deserve a say.” said Senator Farmer about his proposal.