Speaking of citizens, what type of reactions are you getting from them about the LVU program?
The feedback has been great. The typical response from citizens is that they had little or no idea about how many ways the Legislature strips away their voice. People are busy with their lives. The legislative process is complex and happens “in Tallahassee” at a fast pace. Citizens mostly feel like they can’t keep up with what’s going on. When they learn there’s a way to keep informed about important issues that will impact their city and THEIR neighborhood through the LVU program, they’re eager to get involved.
People understand that local decision-making means they have more say in what goes on in their community. They don’t like the Legislature stripping that power away from them. Citizens want to be able to tailor regulations that allow them to keep the special, unique character of their city. And that applies whether it’s vacation rentals, height or density requirements, building design standards or even local regulation of water quality standards.
They know that a legislator, who may never have stepped foot in their city, shouldn’t be making decisions about that city. That applies to how the city collects the garbage, runs its building department or regulates where electrical or telecommunications structures are placed.
How many people are in the LVU network?
We have almost 50,000 people who are in the LVU network, and we continue to grow with the help of our LVU Ambassadors.
What is the decision-making process for engaging LVU on a particular issue?
The League’s legislative team monitors around 500 bills every legislative session. Many bills deal with obscure issues that, while they do impact the way a city functions and operates, don’t necessarily directly impact citizens. However, each legislative session, there are a few bills that directly impact city authority in a way that also directly and adversely impact neighborhoods and the residents.
In the past dozen years, the Legislature has enacted almost 100 preemption bills. These bills limited citizens’ ability to govern themselves at the local level. These are the bills that Local Voices United focuses on. This past session, we engaged the LVU network several times. They helped us fight bills that limited local authority over vacation rentals, contracts for hauling municipal solid waste and unrealistic timeframes for expedited building permits. With their help, we succeeded!