RELEASE: Campaign to Defend Local Solutions, National Groups File Brief in FL “Home Rule” Case


CONTACT: Franco Ripple, 352-219-6029franco@catecomm.com

Campaign to Defend Local Solutions, National Groups File Brief in Florida “Home Rule” Case
Amicus brief with statewide implications filed despite baseless objections from special interest group
Tallahassee, Fla. — The Campaign to Defend Local Solutions (CDLS), alongside other organizations and legal scholars, has filed an amicus curiae brief in the legal battle over the City of Coral Gables’ local Styrofoam ban — despite interference from a major special interest group.Background

In February 2016, the Coral Gables City Commission passed an ordinance banning the use of Styrofoam by city vendors at special events and in take-out food containers. Just a month later, the Florida Legislature passed a bill preempting certain cities from enacting such a ban, unfairly targeting Coral Gables, and in violation of Miami-Dade County’s “home rule” charter. After a Miami-Dade circuit court judge rejected the Florida Retail Federation’s lawsuit challenging the ordinance, the special interest group appealed to Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals.

In September, the Campaign to Defend Local Solutions and other groups filed a motion to submit an amicus brief. However, the Florida Retail Federation attempted to block them from doing so, despite not objecting to other amici seeking to file amicus briefs just weeks before. This week, the appellate court rejected this special interest group’s request, allowing the amicus brief to be filed.

The Brief

The amicus curiae brief was filed this past week by Earthjustice, the nation’s original and largest nonprofit environmental law organization, on behalf of CDLS, the Surfrider Foundation, and legal scholars Laurie Reynolds and Nestor Davidson.

Additional statewide groups signing on in support of the brief include the League of Women Voters of Florida1000 Friends of FloridaReThink Energy Florida, the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Save the Manatee Club. In part, the brief reads:

“Unlike past use of the power of preemption, this case involves a narrow usurpation of home rule authority in order to create a regulatory vacuum. The statutes would in effect unconstitutionally strip local governments of the power to address an important issue of local concern—the way in which expanded polystyrene is harming the economic, environmental and aesthetic fabric of their communities.”
The brief can be downloaded through this link. The case docket can be found on the 3rd DCA website, case number 3D17-562.“Protecting our state’s beautiful environment, natural treasures, and marine life should be of great importance to all Floridians. Unfortunately, special interests have decided that corporate bottom lines are more important, and we cannot let that stand,” said Bonnie Malloy, Senior Associate Attorney at Earthjustice. “It’s curious that these special interests tried to silence our wide-ranging group of co-signers, when they consented to the filing of amicus briefs by various municipalities and communities just weeks before. We are grateful to the courts for seeing merit in hearing from this broad spectrum of groups with a valid, vested interest in Florida’s environment.”

“It’s no secret that special interests are threatened by home rule and the voices of local citizens — but attempting to squelch those voices through our courts is especially low,” said Michael Alfano, Campaign Manager for CDLS. “Local officials are elected to represent the values of their constituents. The people of Coral Gables have the right to seek a clean, healthy environment through smart public policy, and Florida’s Constitution protects that right through their county’s charter. We are proud to join with these groups and scholars to defend local solutions from heavy-handed state preemption.”

Launched in January by Mayor Andrew Gillum of Tallahassee, the Campaign to Defend Local Solutions has become one of the nation’s leading organizations fighting state preemption of local ordinances. The coalition includes more than 1,000 individuals and local elected officials from 43 states, as well as partners including Mayors Against Illegal Guns, States United Against Gun Violence, the National Black Justice Coalition, and Equality Florida, among others. Read more about CDLS in The New York Times, the Washington PostUSA TodayFox NewsSlate, and Florida Politics.