John R. Smith: PBC Officials Should Stop Being Tyrants & Learn Federalism

Sometimes, I discover that some local municipal elected officials have no idea what the concept of Federalism means or how their city fits into the federalist system. Too often, they grind their teeth and consider issues a fight between local and state governments or between the locals and the feds. They have little patience with the concept of unfunded mandates.

Another name for this concept is “preemption,” which occurs when laws enacted at a higher level of government are used to overrule authority locally; state law can be used to preempt local law or ordinances, and federal law can preempt state law.

“Way back when,” the American federalist system was initially designed to allow states to experiment as “creative policy laboratories,” which can try various governance paths and see which succeeds. This evolved into the Federalism enshrined in print by our Forefathers.

Subscribe to The Florida Jolt Newsletter!

Federalism means and involves the sharing of power among the three levels of government, which extends down to relationships between local and state governments. Florida’s statutes exist in part to protect the rights of individuals to appeal “by providing a forum above local politics (because) the ability to circumvent local government by appealing directly to the State prevents narrowly defined minorities from getting too much control at the local level.” This appeals process is an excellent way of saying that sometimes city commissions across Florida pass ordinances and taxes that are toxic to good sense and must be reined in. The Florida Statutes also prevent a quilt work of hodge-podge laws that differ from county to county, city to city.

The U.S. federal government has over 200 laws that require state and local governments, including Florida, to spend their tax revenues in specific ways. Florida employs “intergovernmental mandates” to impose responsibilities on counties and cities. And remember, a county only ever exists at the pleasure and action of Florida’s legislature.

Thus, there is little question that Florida has the legal authority to enact laws that preempt local authority. Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of governance in this county:

In Palm Beach County, some refer to this issue as “home rule.” Some conservatives are inclined to generically think it’s a good idea—until they look closer and begin to parse it. The leftists look at it and say, “Florida’s legislature is clamping down on Florida’s politically blue counties.” That’s inaccurate. The reality is that the legislature is curbing those local governments (whether blue or red) that are acting like tyrants or dictators, abandoning free-market principles, ignoring property rights, or city councils that are simply doing some very wacky things.

If local officials want Florida’s legislature to stop stepping on “home rule,” they need to stop acting like tyrants. The state is very friendly to free-market principles; this cannot be said of some counties and cities, which stifle free enterprise and impose onerous taxes and regulations on homeowners, builders, and businesses. Or local officials who want to create sanctuary cities or enact crazy-quilt patchworks of non-standard practices that are different across 67 counties.

Follow Florida Jolt on Twitter

Some city councils do very wacky things. In 2022, nine cities sued Florida because the state enacted an anti-riot law to crack down on violent protests. Don’t forget the two Palm Beach County elected officials who tried to give each city the power to pass its own gun laws. In some cases, local officials engage in criminal activity, such as the long-running Tallahassee City Hall bribery ring or the corruption of several elected and appointed city officials in a 2019 fraud scam in a Bay County city.

Of course, the overwhelming majority of local governments get it right much of the time. But there are outliers in local governments who try to charge or confiscate shockingly excessive dollar amounts without regard to who it hurts and with no concerns about damaging the local economy. I point the finger here to the elected disciples of wacko environmental fringe groups who want to turn the farmland south of Lake O. into flowways and reservoirs, which would make ghost towns out of Belle Glade, Pahokee, and South Bay.

The bottom line is that things are not as bad as some “home rulers” say.

Other stories you may want to read:

Delray’s Ryan Boylston Mauled Again, Republicans Carney & Barthelemy Hold Fundraiser

Share via
Share via
Thank you for sharing! Sign up for emails!
Making our country Great Again and keeping America First takes teamwork.

Subscribe to our newsletter, join our team of Patriots, and read real conservative news you can trust.

Invalid email address
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.
Send this to a friend