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Proposed Bill Limits Local Control Over Curfews, Mask Mandates and Other Emergency Orders

Photo: JC Gellidon

When COVID-19 began spreading across Florida, local governments rushed to enact emergency measures to control the disease including mask orders, business closings and curfews.

Now a bill being considered by state lawmakers would limit the authority of local mayors.

Manny Diaz Jr. is a Republican from Hialeah Gardens. He introduced the bill.

“We have seen not only throughout the country, but throughout our state different iterations of executive orders dealing with a lot of times the removal of of freedom, rights. When dealing with the pandemic.”

The measure would require local mayors to get approval from elected bodies to extend emergency orders beyond 10 days. The rule would apply whether it’s a hurricane or a pandemic.

“They can’t just go on and on with special orders. Eventually, that’s a dictatorship if nobody ever comes back to the legislative bodies.”

Senator Dennis Baxley is a Republican who represents parts of Central Florida.

“We think this is an overreaction to the current pandemic and sets precedents as to how we’ll be able to address emergencies in the future.”

But critics say local emergency orders are needed to address local conditions, like South Florida’s higher COVID infection rates.

Tonnette Graham is with the Florida Association of Counties and worries it sets a dangerous precedent.

“Passing this bill might just be the beginning of the ending of home rule.”

The bill must still be reviewed by the Military and Veterans Affairs committee and the rules committee.

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