Controversial local ordinance bill moves forward in Florida House

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The Florida legislature is considering a bill that would help people legally challenge city and county ordinances. The bill was met with opposition from citizens and a coalition of labor unions.

After the Senate passed a similar measure last week, the House started moving forward Wednesday with House Bill 1515. It allows plaintiffs who challenge ordinances in court to receive up to $50,000 for attorney fees and costs. It also requires local governments to suspend enforcement of ordinances while lawsuits occur.

However, some are concerned that the bill gives business owners too much power. One Orlando resident, Charles Colon, stated his concerns in front of a subcommittee.

“To just say ‘ordinances’ entirely is too broad and vague and it should be amended to reflect the interest of the general public” Colon said.

Another opponent was Rich Templin. He’s a lobbyist for the AFL-CIO, a large labor union coalition.

“If one business owner doesn’t like the ordinance, they go down, they write a $400 check and they file suit. The minute that suit is filed, the ordinance is over for the lifetime of the lawsuit!” Templin said.

This bill has been supported by many groups including the Florida Home Builders Association and Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. The sponsor of the bill, Representative Robert Brackett of Vero Beach, acknowledged the concerns.

“I’ve heard the comments and concerns and I’m willing to sit and talk to anybody about this.”

The bill was approved in a House subcommittee on Wednesday.