SJLF worked with preeminent local government law professors to draft an amicus curiae brief supporting a challenge to Florida’s HB1, which required localities to seek state approval to decrease their police budgets, stymying local innovation and creative approaches to public safety. The brief explained the historical importance of local government autonomy and reiterated the need for local governments to have control over their own budgets.
On July 8th, 2022 SJLF filed an amicus brief on behalf of ten leading professors in the fields of local government law and local autonomy. The amicus supports a coalition of cities in Florida as they seek to challenge Florida’s House Bill 1 (“HB1”). HB 1 is but one of a series of bills in Florida that aims to restrict the power of cities and counties to make policy decisions responsive to the needs of local residents. HB1, specifically, abrogates cities’ control over their own budgets by allowing an unelected “Administration Commission” to take control of the city’s budget if officials lower police spending for any reason. As such, it stymies localities’ attempts to innovate alternative methods of ensuring public safety, and explicitly takes aim at supporters of the Black Lives Matter Movement and Defund the Police.
SJLF’s amicus brief highlights the long history of cities’ local autonomy in Florida, tracing decades of Florida decisions that enshrine the right of cities to make their own budgetary decisions. It argues that HB1 disregards and undermines the grant of authority to localities in a way that chills local governmental decision-making and retaliates against political choices that don’t align with the Florida legislature.
"By stripping away the power of municipalities to respond to their residents’ needs, HB1 disregards the law and tradition of home rule in Florida and blunts the most direct and effective form of democracy – local governance.” Sarah Swan; Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School