Florida House Bill Has LGBT Groups Concerned

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A Florida Republican has filed a bill that LGBT rights groups are calling a threat to progress.

House bill 17, filed by Representative Randy Fine (R-Brevard County), essentially gives the State of Florida the final say in all governing matters. Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Founder Rand Hoch called the bill, “horribly overreaching.”

“If enacted, this bill prohibits local government from adopting any regulation on any business, profession, and occupation unless there is an express authorization from the legislature through a general law,” said Hoch. “If enacted, this could nullify almost all of the conversion therapy bans already in place – and all of them in the works. To make matters worse, his bill calls for the law to be applied retroactively to Jan. 1, 2017.”

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Hannah Willard, Public Policy Director for Equality Florida, said Fine’s bill is “incredibly far-ranging” and will likely spark a backlash from the business community. Willard said she is hoping to meet with Fine during the 2017 legislative session to “figure out his true intentions.”

The practice of conversion therapy on minors has been banned in multiple South Florida municipalities, including Wilton Manors, Miami, Boynton Beach, Lake Worth and West Palm Beach.

Elected to the Florida House in 2016, Fine serves on the Public Integrity and Ethics Committee. He defended HB 17 to the Orlando Sentinel, telling the newspaper that local governments “can pass regulations, they just have to be regulations that are expressly authorized by the state.”