DeSantis vetoes bill easing farm worker housing restrictions, cites enforcement concerns

by | Jul 1, 2024



Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill aimed at easing restrictions on building housing for agricultural workers on farms, citing concerns about enforcement mechanisms and the potential for housing illegal workers, as well as the undermining of local government authority.


Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill on Friday that sought to ease restrictions on constructing housing for agricultural workers on farms. In his veto message, DeSantis cited concerns over potential loopholes that could allow housing for illegal workers and the undermining of local government authority.

In his veto message, DeSantis noted an absence of enforcement mechanisms to ensure that only legally verified agricultural workers would occupy the housing. This lack of enforcement, he contended, could pave the way for illegal alien workers to use the housing, undermining the bill’s intent. Additionally, DeSantis noted that local governments currently have the ability to establish guidelines and standards through their zoning ordinances, tailored to suit each agricultural community’s needs.

“SB 1082 prohibits local governments from inhibiting the construction and installation of housing on farms for agriculture workers. The bill’s terms apply to legal migrant farm workers, but the bill does not include the means to enforce this limitation and could pave the way for housing of illegal alien workers,” the governor wrote in his veto transmission letter. “Additionally, local governments currently have the ability to establish uniform guidelines and standards through their zoning ordinances, which best suit each agricultural community.”

Senate Bill 1082 proposed to prevent local governments from obstructing the construction and installation of housing for legally verified agricultural workers on agricultural land. Under the bill, any local legislation that inhibited the construction of housing for these workers would be prohibited. The housing had to meet federal, state, and local building standards, including migrant farmworker housing standards regulated by the Department of Health and federal H-2A visa housing standards.

Specific criteria included maintaining housing sites in a neat and safe manner, placing structures at least 10 feet apart, and providing substantial setbacks from property lines.

Local ordinances would still have to comply with state and federal regulations for migrant farmworker housing, but could adopt less restrictive land use regulations. The bill also stipulated conditions for the removal or suspension of use of such housing. If agricultural operations ceased for over 365 days, the housing structures would have to be removed within 180 days unless operations resumed within 90 days. If the land was reclassified from agricultural use, the housing would no longer be eligible for residential use without further approval.

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