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Restrictions on local orders wins support in Florida legislature

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 5:53 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAP NEWS/WCJB) - Local governments will be severely limited when issuing emergency orders in the future under legislation moving quickly at the State Capitol.

Local emergency orders that limit church services, close businesses, work, travel or firearms purchases would all be limited to seven days under the legislation.

“Before this bill will pass, an executive order locally could be ordered from a city manager. Someone who isn’t even elected. At least now, it’s going to have to be ordered from someone who’s elected by the people. Gonna have to be short duration, and it’s going to have to apply equally to every single person,” said House sponsor Representative Bob Rommel.

The legislation does allow local orders to be renewed six times, for a total of 42 days.

Cities call the renewal unworkable in an emergency.

“What if your entire infrastructure is down? It doesn’t make sense. This is an unnecessary restriction,” said Scott Dudley with the Florida League of Cities.

But, the limitations are supported by the Governor.

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“There need to be checks on local governments. They should not be able to close things down,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

And it has the support of legislative leaders.

“There should be an opportunity for the Legislature to invalidate any particular order, whether that’s local or state level,” said House Speaker Chris Sprowls.

Rep. Anthony Sabatini fought mask mandates at every level.

“I think this is the best and most important bill filed this year,” said Sabatini.

“I couldn’t disagree with Representative Sabatini more. I think Apopka is not Pensacola, is not Miami Beach, Miami Beach is not Coral Springs. And we need to stop regulating what local governments can and can not do,” said Rep. Dan Dailey.

The Senate version calls for orders to be renewed every ten days but right now there is no limit on how many times it can be extended.

Orders also must be the least restrictive they can be under the legislation.

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