- Both chambers in the Florida Capitol have approved a bill that grants businesses more leeway to file lawsuits against local governments and municipalities if their profit margins are affected by “unreasonable” ordinances.
- The bill requires a local government to stop enforcing the ordinance being challenged if a lawsuit is permitted to proceed and mandates that the legal challenge is prioritized to make a decision as quickly as possible.
- The measure also requires cities and counties to produce a “business impact estimate” prior to passing an ordinance to be published on the local government’s website and include economic forecasts and indicators.
The Florida House advanced a bill on Wednesday that grants businesses more leeway to file lawsuits against local governments and municipalities if profit margins are affected by “unreasonable” enacted ordinances. The legislation, which has now been approved by both chambers, awaits the signature of Gov. Ron DeSantis.
If a lawsuit is permitted to proceed, the bill would require the local government to stop enforcing the ordinance being challenged, also mandating that the legal challenge is prioritized over other pending cases to make a decision “as quickly as possible,” according to a legislative analysis.
Per the written language of the bill, a county must wait 45 days to enforce an ordinance after it has been challenged unless the plaintiff obtains a stay during the appeals process, which can extend the period of time an ordinance is deemed unenforceable.
Sen. Jay Trumbull, who filed the bill, stated on the Senate floor that the bill contains provisions that would sanction individuals or businesses that file frivolous lawsuits.
“An arbitrary or unreasonable ordinance is one that fails to pass the court’s lowest standards and one that does not have a rational relationship to a legitimate government interest,” said Trumbull. “These cases are often only overturned in the most brazen government overreaches of local government issues, which might otherwise require legislative correction, but could be dealt with in the court.”
If the plaintiff successfully challenges an ordinance as being arbitrary or unreasonable, the court may award up to $50,000 in attorney fees to the winning party.
The measure also requires cities and counties to produce a “business impact estimate” prior to passing an ordinance to be published on the local government’s website including economic forecasts.
“The things that must be included in the impact statement include are a summary of the proposed ordinance, an estimate of the direct economic impact for private, for-profit businesses, and any additional information the local government may deem useful,” said Trumbull.
According to the senator, several categorizations of ordinances including building codes, growth management, and community impact would not be required to provide an impact statement.
Does the bill require the state government to file a similar impact statement for state laws and does it guarantee quick resolution in court for instances where state action adversely affected the profit margins of a for profit company…like Disney?
Yes Stan, I’d hope the bill gives recourse to the stockholders when a CEO’s stupidity in being overly vocal about a bill that 65% of the state wanted, where the CEO’s actions adversely affected the profit margins of a for profit company…like Disney or it’s stockholders?!