Sunday, February 26, 2012

House votes to protect county term limits from litigious local pols

Hopefully, this bill won't be necessary. But just in case, Rep. John Wood (R-Winter Haven)'s bill to make the constitutionality of county term limits explicit unanimously passed the Florida House on Feb. 23.

First, a recap: Of the 20 home rule counties in Florida, voters in 10 have approved term limits over the last 15 years. Politicians have tried every trick in the book the get around the voter-approved reforms but to little avail.*

In August of last year the 4th District Court of Appeals -- the highest court in the state ever to look at the issue -- decided unanimously and unabiguously that county commission term limits are indeed constitutional. The politicians only have one last chance of overturning the will of voters, the Supreme Court of Florida, which has accepted their appeal of the 4th DCA decision. The decision is imminent.

Fortunately, every indication is that the court will rule with the people, affirming the unanimous 4th DCA decision as well as all the hundreds of thousands petitions and votes of the people.

But what if the court surprises us?

While unlikely, it is always good to have a backup plan. Fortunately, we do.

Bills in both houses of the Florida legislature that would explicitly make county term limits constitutional have passed their initial subcommittee hurdles and are moving toward the floor for a vote.

If the bills pass the legislature, the voters will have the opportunity at the ballot box in November to overturn the Supreme Court's ruling, and who can doubt they will?

(PICTURED: Rep. John Wood, R-Winter Haven)

* Corrupt officials in Sarasota County are so far refusing to enforce their voter-approved term limits, but all nine other counties are.

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