Local Control at Risk with Proposed Bill

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When you feel you have been taken advantage of by a company, you can file a complaint with a local agency that regulates that industry but that all could change if a proposed bill is passed in Tallahassee.

The bill, that’s in the House Commerce Committee now, would stop what one lawmaker calls over-reach by counties that add regulations to businesses. But Miami-Dade County officials say it’s the state trying to take away local control.

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“These bills would be a great disservice to the residents of Miami-Dade County,” says Gregory Baker, Consumer Protection Division Chief at the Miami-Dade County Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources.

In 2016, the county’s Consumer Protection Center says it helped mediate more than 3,100 consumer complaints.

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“My bill says if it’s in the Florida statutes you can do it, if it’s not you can’t,” says Randy Fine, the State Representative who sponsored the bill. “Right now we have a problem of regulatory overreach whack-a-mole. Local governments get out of control and Tallahassee has to come and pull them back. We’d like to throw the whack-a-mole machine away.”

But Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez says it’s the state that seems to be over-reaching.

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“I would hope that the Sstate would know that and hopefully those laws won’t pass,” said Gimenez.

Some of the local laws that the county believes would be at risk include those that make sure a locksmith doesn’t have a criminal record, that prohibit businesses from not paying employees known as wage theft, that require mechanics to have ASE or AATI certifications, that check the backgrounds of taxi drivers and ensure that moving companies do not change their estimates.

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“If we’re not here to protect the consumer, the tower could demand cash, could demand higher prices than they’re supposed to demand. And where are you supposed to go,” asks Baker.

Environmental laws are often stricter on the local level as well.

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That’s what NBC6 saw recently when the county forced a construction company to control the dust that was impacting neighbors.

Mayor Gimenez says for him it comes down to one thing.

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“The government that is closer to the people is the better government, is the best government,” he said.

The bill has been sitting in the Commerce Committee for nearly a month without being scheduled. But that doesn’t mean it’s dead. The legislative session is scheduled to end May 5.

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