When it comes to governing the climate-doomed state of Florida, Republicans are nothing if not consistent: Do Only Harm. It’s almost amazing how focused State Party is on finding everything that works in Florida so they can crack it hard. Governor Ron DeSantis’ installation of a anti-vaxx pandemic conspiracy crank in the state’s highest public health office may be the starkest example of the fervor Republicans have for their task, but the daily task of destroying decent government wherever they find it cannot always be so showy.
One of the latest examples comes from Orange County, which battled a housing crisis and responded earlier this year with new ordinances meant to protect tenants from landlord gambling. The county prohibited landlords from raising rents by more than 5% without giving tenants 60 days written notice and discriminating against tenants who use housing vouchers to make payments. That was the plan, anyway, until Republican state lawmakers caught wind of it and drafted a new state law rolling back the new ordinances along with similar protections for tenants enacted locally across the state.
For what? The usual reason, of course: Republicans in Florida are tight as ticks with real estate developers and with landlords, so it only took a few whimpers in Republican ears for state lawmakers to step in and put a stop to it.
WFTV9 brings us the story, a brief passage that addresses the obvious harm this will do. But what’s most striking is the Sheer Gall Of These People: An ordinance saying landlords must give two months’ notice before raising rent by more than 5% isn’t exactly onerous. It’s a confusing little protection, and Republican lawmakers responded by setting off a statewide bombshell blocking communities from passing any restrictions on how much landlords can raise rents.
There was a time when Republicans claimed to be big believers in local governance, and the more local the better. The federal government should be responsible for nothing, they said, and the state governments responsible for as little as possible. The rest would be crafted “close to the people”, with individual communities and local sheriffs deciding what they wanted to tolerate in terms of “gun rights” or food safety guidelines, or take your pick.
This libertarian funnel of rights never worked, mind you, because while the idea of putting every piece of regulation in the hands of the lowest, most bribeable official possible seems positively utopian if you have a lot of money for kickbacks, it turns out that big business hated the idea of not knowing what the damn laws are in every city they do business in and pushed the other way. Whenever local governments gained a little control, corporate donors to the Republican Party would immediately chase lawmakers for the exact opposite, demanding that the government take back those regulations at the The highest possible level.
The result obtained by conservatism is the most obvious: conservatives declare the appropriate place to decide what should be governed and how the level of government in which they have the most power, and whatever level of government they belong to not have power are communists, or disconnected, or woke.
What’s wrong with Orange County, Florida responding to a housing inflation crisis with a fairly trivial new requirement that you must at least give your tenants notice before increasing rents by 10% or 20% or 50%? Nothing! Not a fucking thing! It’s more surprising that it wasn’t a law before!
But when the entire Republican Party of Florida is in the pocket of the real estate industry, all it takes is a nudge and the little protection is unraveled again. Repeat over and over again, and you have the current state of Florida. It would certainly be nice to find out one day that it was all down to brazen corruption in the state house, with suitcases full of cash being handed out like candy on Halloween. Because if it is not that, then Florida Republicans have sabotaged everything from state colleges to history classes to major employers to pandemic responses to elections and housing because they are simply dedicated to destroying it all.
It can’t be incompetence, it’s way too consistent. So what is it ?
Sign the petition: Denounce DeSantis, Florida Republicans.
Ron DeSantis is comically corrupt
Texas Republicans are performatively bad again
Surprise: Authors of Congress cards forced by DeSantis exposed as (illegal) partisan agents