In an article published by Law360, Jamie A. Cole commented on Florida’s “anti-riot” law. The bill was prompted by the Black Lives Matter protests that became prominent starting last summer and enhances penalties for demonstrations that turn violent.
“It’s a major intrusion into the home rule authority of cities, the most important function of a city commission is setting the budget. It’s a core principle of home rule power,” Jamie told Law360.
The law could face legal challenges from local governments that take issue with provisions that could be viewed as intrusions into their constitutionally conferred home rule powers. The law provides that if a city reduces the budget for law enforcement at all, the state attorney or any member of the city commission can appeal that decision to the governor and cabinet, which can then approve or reject the city’s decision. According to Jamie, this takes final budgetary control out of the hands of city officials.
The law also waives sovereign immunity for cities and allows anyone who is killed, injured or suffers property damage in what the law defines as a “riot” to sue a city for failing to provide reasonable protection. Jamie told Law360 that cities will likely have to insure against these claims, which will mean paying high premiums and raising taxes to do so.
While Jamie does not know of any plans to challenge the law on the home rule provisions, he would not be surprised to see lawsuits on this issue.