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Measure permits businesses to sue governments over local ‘arbitrary and unreasonable’ ordinances

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Rep. Jay Trumbull

Rep. Jay Trumbull

A Northwest Florida lawmaker is reviving a measure that would allow businesses to sue local governments for enacting “arbitrary and unreasonable” ordinances.

Sen. Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City, filed SB 170 on January 24. The measure has been referred to the Community Affairs Committee, which meets next on February 8, and the Rules Committee, which meets the following day. There is no House companion.

The measure would cap recovery at $50,000 and require local governments to prepare economic impact statements before enacting an ordinance.

Another provision would require local governments to suspend enforcement of the ordinance while courts weigh a challenge on an expedited basis.

The bill includes exceptions, including emergency ordinances, budget amendments and ordinances required by state law.

Rep. Mike Giallombardo, R-Cape Coral, filed a similar measure — HB 403 — last session. It and a companion, SB 280 by Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Palm Coast, cleared several committees but stalled late in the session.

The Legislature last year approved a similar measure, SB 620, also by Hutson, that would have created a cause of action for businesses that could demonstrate that a local ordinance reduced their annual profits by 15% or more.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said he approved of the concept but vetoed the measure.

DeSantis said he was concerned the bill’s “broad and ambiguous language” would lead to “both unintended and unforeseen consequences and costly litigation.”

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