Palm Beach County Commission sues state over ‘political bullying’ gun lawby Dara Kam | December 6th, 2011
The Palm Beach County Commission has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, the Florida House and the Florida Senate today over a gun law that that went into effect on Oct. 1. Local officials who violate the law could be removed from office and face a $5,000 fine.
The sanctions “are simply a form of political bullying that serves no governmental purpose” and have a “chilling effect,” the lawsuit reads.
The commission’s lawsuit complains that the new law, sponsored by Sen. Joe Negron, is unconstitutional because it violates the separation of powers because it gives the governor the ability to remove local officials from office and strips local officials of immunity from lawsuits.
Under current law, the governor is only allowed to suspend local officials and the Florida Senate has the power to remove them or reinstate them.
“Threatened removal of individual commissioners in a matter that is consistent with the terms of the Florida Constitution is political overreaching and political bullying that serves no legitimate governmental purpose,” Amy Taylor Petrick, an attorney for the county, wrote in the lawsuit filed in the Palm Beach County Circuit Court today.
The lawsuit asks the court to find that the law is unconstitutional, stop the governor from being able to remove local officials from office and order that they can’t be fined for breaking the law.
Negron said the penalties are necessary because city and county commissioners have ignored a law that gives the legislature the discretion to regulate gun laws.
After the law went into effect, municipalities, counties and state agencies were forced to scrap hundreds of measures dealing with firearms and could no longer bar people from being guns into government buildings, including the state Capitol.
“Political disputes should be resolved in the elected government arena rather than in courtrooms. So we’ll see where it goes from here,” said Negron, who had not seen the lawsuit Tuesday evening.
Negron, R-Stuart, said he does not intend to file a bill to repeal the law during the legislative session that begins next month.
“I would consider that just as I have to follow federal law and I have to follow county laws and city laws when I’m in their counties and cities, they should follow the preemption of the state law then nobody has anything to worry about,” Negron, R-Stuart, said.
Spokeswomen for Bondi and House Speaker Dean Cannon said their lawyers are reviewing the lawsuit.
National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer, who pushed the bill, called the lawsuit un-American.
“They’re using taxpayer dollars to try to keep from being punished for violating the law? That’s exactly the American way, is it?” she said.