|DATE:||December 26, 2019|
|TO:||USF & NRA Members and Friends|
|FROM:||Marion P. Hammer|
|USF Executive Director|
|NRA Past President|
How does it feel knowing that in at least 30 Cities and Counties, elected Commissioners and local government officials think they have a right to knowingly and willfully violate State law and not be punished?
In 30 local governments they are spending tax dollars to fight the State for passing a law to punish them for intentionally violating state law.
Tax payers are actually being represented by Commissioners who THINK they are above the law and are spending tax dollars to try to overturn a law that punishes them for intentionally breaking the law.
THE ISSUE IS NOT IMPORTANT. THE ATTITUDE AND CULTURE WHERE CITY & COUNTY COMMISSIONERS THINK THEY ARE ABOVE THE LAW IS THE PROBLEM. It is a clear cultivation of lawlessness for the arrogant, elitist running these local governments.
Being elected to office doesn't mean they have immunity from being held accountable for intentionally breaking the law. Being elected means they must be held to at least the same standard of conduct as those who trusted them with their vote.
BE AWARE: Dozens of City and County Commissioners think they are better than you. They think they are above the law. They are spending hard earned tax dollars to sue the State for expecting local government officials to obey the law just like you and everybody else.
Attorneys for dozens of cities - including Tallahassee, the Capitol of Florida - filed a brief urging the 1st District Court of Appeal to rule that local government officials can intentionally break Florida State law and not be punished.
Reprinted with Permission
December 24, 2019
TALLAHASSEE - Describing the law as an “unnecessary and unconstitutional overreach,” cities and counties argue that an appeals court should reject a 2011 state law that threatens tough penalties if local elected officials approve gun regulations.
Attorneys for dozens of cities, counties and local officials filed a brief Monday urging the 1st District Court of Appeal to uphold a lower-court decision that found the law unconstitutional. Challenges to the law were filed after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, as local governments looked for ways to curb gun violence.
The brief Monday said the threatened penalties violate legal immunities provided to local officials as they make policy decisions.
“These immunities underscore our republican form of government in which citizens choose their elected officials, who are then duty-bound to represent their constituents’ interests through legislative and regulatory initiatives,” the 54-page brief said. “Without immunity from liability, officials and localities are understandably likely to refrain from acting on matters they reasonably believe are both permissible and in the interest of their constituents, for fear of professional and financial ruin if it is later determined their belief was mistaken.”
Florida since 1987 has barred cities and counties from passing regulations that are stricter than state firearms laws, a concept known as “preemption” of local gun laws. The 2011 law was designed to strengthen the preemption by adding penalties, such as the possibility of local officials facing $5,000 fines and potential removal from office for passing gun regulations.
The legal battle is not about the underlying 1987 preemption law.
But the penalties law was challenged by 30 cities, three counties and more than 70 elected officials, according to Monday’s brief. That includes cities such as Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Gainesville and Tallahassee.
Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson in July found parts of the law unconstitutional, citing issues related to “legislative immunity,” which protects local government officials in their decision-making processes. He also pointed to the constitutional separation of powers, as judges could be asked to rule on penalizing local officials.
Lawyers for Attorney General Ashley Moody and Gov. Ron DeSantis took the case to the Tallahassee-based 1st District Court of Appeal and argued that Dodson’s ruling should be overturned. In a brief last month, they cited a “hierarchical relationship” between the state and local governments and said the Florida Constitution “subjugates local governments’ authority to that of the Florida Legislature.”