Florida may be the only state in which cities and counties have to be ever vigilant for legislative encroachment by the state.
It’s a head-scratcher from most of us, who wonder out loud why the state wants to interfere in local rule. Maybe it’s because they do such a poor job at writing laws for the state, in terms of benefitting residents rather than lobbyists.
The most recent attempt is Senate Bill 574 sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican.
If the name sounds familiar, you may have read in here on our editorial page several times over the past years. Steube is the lawmaker who annually comes up with new guns law attempting to expand state open handgun carry laws to college campuses, airports and barrooms — everywhere thus far except the Senate Chamber, where it is, apparently, not that good an idea.
Google up “Bad Steube Laws” for fun.
Here are the first hits, all from state newspapers:
n Miami Times: “Republican Florida Sen. Greg Steube is a Conservative Nightmare.”
n The Sun-Sentinel: “Kill bad bill on public records.”
n The Bradenton Herald: “Steube aims to cripple Florida’s open government law.”
n Tampa Bay Times: “Bill would revoke Florida law that allows undocumented students to pay in-state college tuition rates.”
Last session he led an effort to erode home rule from cities and counties, and relax laws meant to rein in oversight of vacation rentals.
n Last month the Tallahassee Democrat reported: “… Steube declares war on local tree regulations.”
SB 574 is “an act relating to tree and timber trimming, removal, and harvesting … preempting to the state the regulation of the trimming, removal or harvesting of trees and timber on probate property; prohibiting certain local governmental actions relating to the trimming or removal of trees or timber; prohibiting local governments from prohibiting the burial of vegetative debris on certain properties; providing an effective date.”
If you’re now wondering why a State Senator would be drafting legislation to monopolize the burial of vegetative debris, well done.
Our new sister newspaper, the Ocala Star-Banner, has an answer: “It’s not surprising, as we have written previously, that SB 574 was filed after Steube was aggrieved that he had to obtain and pay for permits from Sarasota County to cut down trees on his homestead. That’s his style. Having faced regulations related to a rental property on Florida’s east coast, Steube, last year, filed a bill seeking to “preempt” local rules on short-term vacation stays.”
The Florida Association of Counties is already out in front of the bill, and the 1000 Friends of Florida has posted a petition online at 1000friendsofflorida.org.
The Star-Banner was spot on when it wrote: “Steube’s tree bill provides no practical alternative to local policies and regulations. No one believes that the state could or would develop a reasonable, effective and efficient regulatory mechanism statewide. That, alone, should be enough for Floridians to voice their opposition to this misguided bill.”