The Florida League of Cities is the champion of home rule in Florida. Florida’s constitution empowers citizens with the right of local self-government, or home rule. Cities are the embodiment of this right. Cities are formed by citizens and are governed by citizens. They administer the local affairs of the community for the special benefit of the city’s residents. The form of government and level of services a city provides are fundamental expressions of home rule. Home rule is why no two cities are alike. Florida’s city residents take pride in this diversity and responsibility. Strong home rule powers ensure that government stays close to the people it serves. Intrusion on home rule from the state or federal government undermines the constitutional right of local citizens to govern themselves.
The Florida League of Cities opposes unfunded mandates from any level of government. An unfunded mandate is when one government forces another level of government to take some action that spends or reduces revenue, without providing any resources to offset the impact. Unfunded mandates are the antithesis of government transparency. Mandates conceal the connection between the taxes city residents pay and the services they receive. Unfunded mandates cause local city leaders to be held accountable for decisions made by others who live far away and who are not accountable for the fiscal impact on local taxpayers. The Florida Constitution prohibits unfunded mandates from state government except under certain conditions. This provision was added to the constitution in 1990 after Floridians became fed up with being forced to pay for state programs with local tax dollars. Yet in spite of the clear preference of Florida’s residents, unfunded mandates have continued with increasing frequency.
The following issue briefs provide background information and status on many of the League's legislative priorities.