TALLAHASSEE-- The Florida Supreme Court hears oral arguments on a state law that imposes fines of $5,000 on city and county elected officials who vote to impose restrictions on guns.
State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried filed the lawsuit. Her attorney, Edward Guedes, argued that while judges can throw out local ordinances that conflict with state laws and the Florida Constitution, this law goes one step farther by imposing fines if an ordinance is found to conflict with state law.
"Local democracy must be allowed to survive... even at the expense of some legislative frustration," Geddes told reporters.
"Think about the consequences... if the folks we elect (in our communities) could be fined... this year it's $5,000, next year it could be $100,000, it could be jail time, it could be anything," Geddes told reporters.
Justices peppered Guedes with questions, but had few for the state's attorney, Daniel Bell, indicating an inclination to keep the law in place.
"(The Florida Constitution) says that local officials have only those powers which are not inconsistent with general law... and there's no reason the Legislature wouldn't be able to provide penalties for its statute," Bell told justices.
Most of the arguments centered around home rule versus rule from Tallahassee, also known as "preemption," rather than around guns.
Information from the News Service of Florida was used in this report.