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Bill To Restrict Rights Of Cities, Counties Backed By House Speaker

House Speaker Richard Corcoran speaks at the Argus Foundation meeting with State Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota

One bill is making waves in advance of Tuesday's opening of the legislative session Tallahassee. It would restrict the rights of cities and counties to pass laws that haven't been given the OK by the state. And it is being backed by the speaker of the Florida House.

Laws passed by local governments - such as minimum wage raises, rules to curb pollution and protection for LGBT people - would be null and void, unless they have been given specific permission from the state Legislature.

House Bill 17 passed the muster of a House committee after being introduced by Republican State Representative Randy Fine of Palm Bay. It would be retroactive, making any rules stretching back to January 1st null and void.  

While there isn't a companion bill in the Senate yet, the House version has the backing of Speaker Richard Corcoran. The Land O'Lakes Republican told an audience Thursday at the Sarasota Yacht Club local governments cannot be allowed to "thwart the free market."

"Well, in Pinellas we can't have our toilets flushed three times a day. In Pasco, we've got to take our fertilizer to the back and store it," he told members of the Argus Foundation. "There's just all these regulations on the books. I think that belongs to the province of the state."

There is a place for local government, he said:

"But I think that ultimately the state needs to be the protector of those rights of the individuals and corporations," he said. "And when the locals are overstepping their bounds, it is absolutely within the right and the jurisdiction of the states - as our founders intended - to rein that in."

The session begins with an address by Governor Scott Tuesday.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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