Legislative & Advocacy

Legislative Policy Development Process

 
One of the primary functions of the Florida League of Cities is to advocate for Home Rule and local decision making for cities at the state and federal level. The Municipal Home Rule Powers Act and the Florida Constitution provide that cities in Florida have the authority to govern themselves locally, independent of state control. Preserving Home Rule, educating citizens on this valuable right, and maintaining a focus on those issues that directly affect self-governance, service delivery and the quality of life of each municipality are essential goals of the Florida League of Cities.
 
Municipal officials are essential to the League’s legislative success and are encouraged to develop and maintain strong relationships with legislators. Below are some resources officials can use to develop an advocacy plan. The League has also developed a comprehensive Advocacy Guide to help municipal officials become stronger advocates.
 
 
Legislative Policy Committees
 
The League’s legislative policy committees play a crucial role in the development of the legislative priorities for the League. The committees meet in August, September, October and November each year to consider and develop proposed legislative priorities which are then submitted to the Legislative Committee and ultimately the FLC membership for consideration and adoption at the Legislative Conference in November each year. These priorities then become the FLC Legislative Action Agenda.
 
Legislative Policy Committee chairs, vice-chairs, and members are appointed annually by the League president. Any city official is eligible to serve on a Policy Committee, and appointments are usually based upon a city official’s support and advocacy of the League’s adopted Legislative Action Agenda, participation at meetings, Legislative Action Day, and other legislative-related activities. There are currently five standing legislative policy committees:
 
Finance, Taxation and Personnel Committee
  • general finance & tax issues
  • home rule revenues
  • infrastructure funding
  • insurance
  • local option revenues
  • pension issues
  • personnel and collective bargaining issues
  • revenue sharing
  • tax and budget reform
  • workers’ compensation
 
Transportation and Intergovernmental Relations Committee
  • annexation
  • billboards
  • charter counties
  • eminent domain
  • ethics/elections
  • general utilities
  • property rights
  • rights-of-way
  • sunshine law
  • telecommunications
  • tort liability
  • transportation and highway safety
 
Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee
  • coastal management
  • energy
  • environmental permitting
  • hazardous and toxic wastes
  • recycling
  • solid waste collection and disposal
  • stormwater
  • wastewater treatment and reuse
  • water management
  • water quality
  • water quantity
  • wetlands permitting
 
Growth Management & Economic Development Committee
  • charter schools
  • community redevelopment
  • economic development
  • growth management and land use planning issues
  • affordable housing/foreclosures
  • special districts
 
Urban Administration Committee
  • building & fire safety codes
  • building codes and construction
  • code enforcement
  • homeland security
  • public meetings
  • public property management
  • public safety    

The Legislative Committee
A key component to the final adoption of the League’s Legislative Action Agenda is the Legislative Committee, which the League president appoints in October prior to the November Legislative Conference. The Legislative Committee is comprised of each legislative policy committee chair and the chairs of the other standing committees; the president of each local and regional league; the presidents of several other municipal associations; chairs of the municipal trust boards; and several at-large members. These officials meet at the Legislative Conference to review the recommended priorities of the Legislative Policy Committees. The role of the Legislative Committee is to provide a “big picture” perspective to ensure that issues are truly representative of statewide municipal interests, not duplicative or in conflict, and are timely and properly presented. The Legislative Committee may limit, reject, prioritize or rank recommendations. The policy priorities as adopted by the Legislative Committee are then recommended to the general membership for approval as the League’s Legislative Action Agenda.

The Business Session
The proposed Legislative Action Agenda is brought before the full general membership for consideration, possible amendment and adoption at the Business Session of the Legislative Conference in November. The Business Session is held on the final day of the Legislative Conference.

Focusing on Municipal Issues
More than 3,000 bills are filed each year and League staff typically tracks more than 800 for potential impact on municipalities. Florida’s legislative session is regularly scheduled for 60 days a year. Because of this compressed timeframe, it is important for city officials and League staff to focus on a limited number of legislative priorities and ensure the priorities:

  • Adhere to the League’s paramount goal of preserving municipal home rule powers;
  • Are issues that directly affect the functions of municipal government (as opposed to affecting municipal citizens generally);
  • Are issues of statewide, rather than local or regional, interest;
  • Require state legislative action rather than seek changes to constitutional or federal law;[1] and
  • Do not seek legislative authorization for something that municipalities already possess the power to do under their home rule powers, if they so choose.

The Resolutions Committee
The Resolutions Committee is appointed by the League president and meets during the League’s Annual Conference in August. The composition of this committee is similar to the Legislative Committee. The League’s by-laws provide that only state legislative issues are to be considered by the Legislative Policy Committees and federal and state constitutional and commemorative issues are to be considered by the Resolutions Committee. Resolutions are often suggested or submitted by the League’s Board of Directors, local and regional leagues, individual municipalities or municipal associations.

The Federal Action Strike Team (FAST)
FAST is a standing committee that addresses federal issues that affect municipalities. FAST members are appointed by the League president according to congressional district and each member works closely with the League and the National League of Cities to influence federal legislation affecting cities in Florida.