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Richard Corcoran and Joe Negron see cities and counties' role differently



When it comes to telling local governments what they can and cannot do, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron are taking markedly different positions.

The issue will play out in the upcoming legislative session in the form of broad House legislation (HB 17) that would ban all local government regulation of business without state permission, which could throw out ordinances ranging from mandatory bar closing hours to protection of LGBTQ Floridians. A narrower Senate bill (SB1158) filed Thursday would prevent regulation of "commerce, trade and labor."

Where Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, sees preempting local laws as a priority, Negron, R-Stuart, feels differently.

"For me, the general rule is to allow local governments to operate in their lane without the state interfering," Negron said. "That being said, I believe there are certain policy issues (where the state should step in) and so there's a delicate balance here, and it depends on what the issue is."

For example, Negron championed giving the state power in determining gun laws. He voted last year to take local governments' rights to regulate ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft, an issue that will return this spring as well.

Corcoran, who under the Obama administration railed against the federal government meddling in state affairs, takes a hard-line approach toward local governments.

"When they set up the Constitution, they basically said that the federal government exists for these enumerated powers. If it's not enumberated, all of it belongs to the states," Corcoran said. "Every bit of it. And the states have all of that."

The same principle, he said, does not exist in the state's relationship with cities and counties, though they do currently have home rule -- the right to pass laws and regulations that the state has not prohibited in their boundaries.

To Corcoran, taking away some of that ability is in service of another goal: "We have a job to try to make the state as friendly as possible for not just individuals but also for businesses."

Photo: Then-Rep. Richard Corcoran, R- Land O' Lakes, shares a laugh with then-Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, before the start of the 2016 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee. (SCOTT KEELER | Times)