Florida’s CRC wants to take away cities’ — and taxpayers’ — power to regulate businesses. Tell commissioners No!

Miami Herald Editorial Board

The Constitution Revision Commission’s Proposal 95 clamps down on cities’ ability to regulate commerce if a business operates in more than one jurisdiction.
The Constitution Revision Commission’s Proposal 95 clamps down on cities’ ability to regulate commerce if a business operates in more than one jurisdiction. Miami Herald

The Florida Legislature is in session, and the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is having its every-two-decades confab. And they both want to usurp the authority that Florida cities have to govern themselves.

Floridians need to be clear that their voices will be muzzled, too, if the state preempts their local governments’ ability to regulate business, zoning, etc.

While several bills to clamp down on the independence of municipalities are making their way through the state House, the most pressing issue is Friday’s meeting of the CRC, which is prepared to make needless mischief through Proposal 95.

This misbegotten proposal would preempt local governments’ authority to regulate commerce, trade and labor.

It says: “A county, municipality or special district may only regulate commerce, trade or labor occurring exclusively within the respective entity’s own boundaries in a manner not prohibited by law. A regulation enacted by a county, municipality, or special district may not intrude upon or impede commerce, trade or labor across the respective entity’s boundaries.”

Translation: It’s a power grab, plain and simple. The members of the Florida League of Cities rightly have cried foul. Gil Ziffer, the League’s president, told the Herald Editorial Board that Proposal 95 is overly broad, too vague and harmful, especially to small companies.

“Big businesses don’t like some local decisions,” Ziffer said. “Many corporations figured out that it costs less money to lobby the Legislature rather than to deal with individual municipalities.”

When Proposal 95 doesn’t leave cities scratching their heads, trying to figure out what “impede” means, it flat-out ties their hands, preventing them from regulating businesses in a way appropriate to their communities.

Will a city “impede” business when it tells a daycare or health clinic that has branches in several municipalities that it can’t operate in a house but can conduct business across the street in a strip mall storefront, in accordance with local zoning codes and residents’ desires?

Does the proposal mean that a city such as Miami Beach, where Art Deco buildings are integral to the city’s character, can’t demand that the architecture of a fast-food restaurant — part of a national chain — conform to surrounding structures?

You see the problem here.

The question is, Do CRC commissioners see the problem? If they don’t and the Local Government Committee approves P95 on Friday, then it’s a first step toward enshrining muzzling taxpayers in the state Constitution.

It’s not too late for Floridians to go to flcrc.gov/Commissioners to tell the CRC that Proposal 95 is unacceptable — and that when it comes to deciding the destiny of their own neighborhoods and cities, they can go to a city commission meeting and speak for themselves.