Okay, Governor DeSantis. It’s time for you to take a stand.
Are you with the puppies or against them?
We admit it: we’re choosing puppies to lead this parade because, well, they’re puppies. County and city commissioners aren’t quite as cuddly, and their spouses tend to object if you try. But Governor, you can also protect them.
More importantly, you can protect taxpayers who fund local governments with taxes on their homes and other assets. You can make sure their money is going to the things they really need: police and fire protection, decent roads, libraries, and parks – dog parks, even. For puppies.
A small veto would suffice.
Those of you who aren’t Ron DeSantis might wonder what we’re talking about. We know the governor knows.
As Orlando reporter Jason Garcia pointed out last month, the governor’s staff reached out to the sponsor — in influence, if not in name — of a truly damaging bill that DeSantis knew would be headed his way. signature. The Governor’s inquiry was narrowly focused: Could we leave the puppies out of this?
But Bill (SB 620) is all about profit, and puppies can be quite profitable. The legislation – decried by local government groups as well as environmentalists and animal welfare organizations – is intended to discourage local city and county officials from approving new rules that could cost city managers money. local business. It doesn’t matter if the new rule is intended to benefit the public or to make a community a better place to do business overall. If a local government action — or even a voter-approved amendment — costs a company at least 15% of its profits, the company can sue for damages and attorneys’ fees.
This new legislation does not give carte blanche to file a complaint. This bill would not protect businesses from planning and zoning decisions. Business owners would also not be allowed to sue local rules created to deal with emergencies, budget decisions, or contracts with state or federal governments. They could not sue against the existing regulations, and they would only obtain the right to sue after doing business in a city for three years.
Still, we can think of plenty of local decisions that could be weighed down by the threat of a lawsuit — like a noise ordinance that forced some bars to cancel live entertainment, restrictions on vacation rentals disrupting the neighborhood or new rules governing how much strip-club dancers are allowed to take off.
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Or a ban on for-profit sales of puppies and kittens — similar to the one Orange County and at least a dozen other Florida counties have already put into effect. The goal is to shut down the number of pets entering Florida from so-called “puppy mills,” which often raise purebred dogs and cats under high-stress circumstances, resulting in animals exhibiting genetic defects and other serious health problems.
Only one major pet store chain still sells for-profit dogs and cats in Florida — Petland, which lobbied against Orange County’s ordinance and tried to convince lawmakers to pass a new bill that would end existing pet protection orders and block new ones. Campaign finance records show that in the current cycle, companies with the word “Petland” in their name have made $261,000 in contributions to various candidates.
One of them is Senate Speaker Wilton Simpson, who has made passing SB 620 his top priority — and who refused the governor’s request to exempt orders that protect animals.
The bill passed and it landed on DeSantis’ desk on Friday.
Now the governor has a decision to make, and we think it’s easy: to veto this bill. It won’t cost local business owners the leverage they already have in their communities, and it won’t send local cities and counties into a regulatory rampage. But it will protect local officials when caught between a company’s bottom line and changes that will make local communities safer, neighborhoods more livable — and pets happier and healthier.
Protect the puppies and the people win too. It looks like an easy decision.
The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board consists of Opinion Editor Krys Fluker, Managing Editor Julie Anderson, Viewpoints Editor Jay Reddick, and El Sentinel Editor Jennifer A. Marcial Ocasio . Contact us at [email protected]