MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The City of Miramar and eight other cities are filing a lawsuit against the state and Governor Ron DeSantis over a provision in HB1, also known as the ‘Anti-Riot Act’.
The bill, which DeSantis signed into law earlier this year in response to Black Lives Matter protests, contains a provision that says cities are not allowed to lower their police and public safety budgets without approval from state officials.
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The cities filing the lawsuit say they will not stand by and let the governor dictate or control their public safety budgets.
“They have no place to be able to come in potentially based off HB1 to take in, take root, and basically take control,” said Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam.
“The public is more familiar with HB1 because of some of the First Amendment issues that have been fought in federal court but this is a little different HB1 also impacts the abilities for local governments to control their budgets,” he added.
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The provision being challenged has some constitutional concerns, according to attorney Dave Weinstein.
“I thought, as did the people in this lawsuit, the law was taking away the “home rule” power of local municipalities. That it was acting outside the specific powers granted to the governor and the members of his cabinet. There were a number of different areas that it was constitutionally defective,” said Weinstein.
So far a total of nine cities have signed on to the lawsuit, including several other local municipalities like Lauderhill, North Bay Village, North Miami, North Miami Beach, and Wilton Manors. The group is raising concerns about the new executive review process to discourage any decrease in local police budgets.
“We feel the governor and the cabinet does not have the ability to control our local budget,” said Messam. “For example, if we buy police cars this year and decide not to buy them next year and if there’s a reduction potentially over our budget, there could be an impact. So without that context, if there’s any change in the public safety budget the governor and his cabinet can come and step in. We feel that’s unconstitutional.”
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The lawsuit is asking for a temporary injunction while this case plays out.