Equality Florida Sounds Alarm Over Preemption Bill 

Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida. Photo via Equality Florida, Facebook

Equality Florida, the only statewide LGBT rights group, is sounding an alarm over HB 3, which could threaten local LGBT rights protections if passed.

“So House Bill three is a sweeping preemption of local government regulations. Basically, anything that touches business, occupation, paid employment, and the sale of goods or services. So that's a very wide scope,” said Jon Harris Maurer,Equality Florida’s Public Policy Director. “There are a number of concerns that Equality Florida has for thebill, but specifically on its potential impact for LGBTQ equality. We have concerns that the legislation would threaten human rights ordinances, conversion therapy bills, and equal benefits ordinances. Currently 60 percent of Floridians are covered by non-discrimination ordinances.

The bill would prohibit local governments from imposing and adopting new regulations on businesses.

Maureralso noted that the low number the bill was given means it’s a priority in the house. 

This bill, like many similar ones over the years, has little chance of passing. But it’s already been given a favorable recommendation in one of the three committees it was referred to.

 According to the Florida Watchdog supporters of the bill include The Florida Retail Federation, Associated Industries of Florida and Florida Chamber of Commerce. Meanwhile The Florida Association of Counties, Florida League of Cities and many labor unions, environmental organizations and civil-rights groups oppose it. 

“We do think the bill is a high level priority and will attract a lot of support,” Maurersaid. “It's also moving through the process very quickly.”

Rand Hoch, president of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, is confident the bill will not pass. 

“Preemption bills like HB 3 keep getting reintroduced in the Florida Legislature with little chance of becoming law,” he said. “Fortunately, lobbyists for counties, cities and many other “interests are working hard to make sure the bill does not reach the governor’s desk.”

But if it did pass Hoch summed up the bill’s effect on the LGBT rights movement in two words. 

“We’re screwed.” 

 


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