Are Florida's local governments over-reaching or is the state?

Are Florida’s local governments over-reaching or is the state? That is the question

Bottom Line: There are several issues that pit local governments against the state currently. Regulating vacation rentals, school districts and charter school funding and most recently straw and sunscreen bans. The bottom line is this. Either the state government is over-reaching by attempting to limit local governments from managing all of these different aspects of life or activist local governments are on political power trips that need to be reined in. 

If I were to simply evaluate the each of the issues on a personal preference basis here’s the way I’d come down on these issues: 

  • Vacation Rentals: State
  • Charter School Funding: State
  • Straw bans: Local
  • Sunscreen: Local

But it’s important to not just say that I might agree with a government’s position on something,therefore X. The premise is more important. Our system of government is as well. It’s important to remember that we’re naturally free as Americans and at the time of our founding were only limited when our use of rights breached someone else’s rights. Overtime, and with few limited government believers in many governments – especially in South Florida – those principals aren’t even part of the day-to-day conversation. Instead there are no shortage of politicians who want to tell you how to live your life and what you can and can’t do. That’s where many of these battles between our local and state governments come into play. We need to be careful not to get carried away with governments that are fast to reign in your rights because it’s the trendy thing to do. As was pointed out during the state’s argument to pass the sunscreen ban – there’s no supporting science to support the ban and it actually serves as a public health issue if it’s passed. Recently, I dug into the research and that’s completely correct. But that hasn’t stopped Hawaii from passing a ban, along with Key West and other governments considering the issue that like to be the environmental “cool kids”. That’s the single biggest reason why straw bans went from near non-existent to normal inside of a couple of years.

But let’s reevaluate these issues based on personal liberty rather than preference. If we were to do that here’s the government that’s creating the most personal liberty on these issues. 

  • Vacation Rentals: Local
  • Charter School Funding: State
  • Straw bans: State
  • Sunscreen: State

By applying the civil liberty standard three of my four initial preferences change. If you truly believe in personal liberty, I’d challenge you to think about policy this way. On the issues, which side is providing you with the most liberty? I think many of us get caught up in what sounds good to us rather than what’s in our longer-term interest.

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