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Fla. Const. art. VIII, § 1(g) was intended to specifically give charter counties two powers unavailable to non-charter counties: the power to preempt conflicting municipal ordinances, and the power to avoid intervention of the legislature by special laws. The power to preempt is the power to exercise county power to the exclusion of municipal power. Preemption is a transfer of power, from exclusive municipal authority or concurrent authority, to exclusive county authority. The preemption power was specifically included to eliminate the necessity of most if not all special laws when a charter county sought to preempt city ordinances in such areas as speed limits and other regulatory matters.
Following a referendum, petitioner Broward County amended its charter to provide that, pursuant to Fla. Const. art. VIII, § 1(g), municipal ordinances would prevail over county ordinances except in three areas, including the area of handgun control. Respondent city brought suit and argued that Fla. Const. art. VIII, § 4 required a city-wide as well as a county-wide referendum. Section 4 required dual referenda whenever there was a transfer of any function or power from one governmental entity to another. Upon review, the district court agreed with the city, reversed the trial court, and certified a question regarding the construction of the two constitutional provisions to the state supreme court.
In providing that county ordinances relating to handgun management would prevail over municipal ordinances, did the charter county facilitate the transfer of power, thereby invoking the provisions of Fla. Const. art. VIII, § 4?
The court held that Fla. Const. art. VIII, § 1(g) permitted regulatory preemption by counties, while Fla. Const. art. VIII, § 4 required dual referenda to transfer functions or powers relating to services. Thus, in this case, the court found that the charter county could preempt a municipal regulatory power when uniformity would best further the ends of government. According to the court, a dual referenda would be necessary when the preemption would go beyond regulation and would intrude upon a municipality's provision of services. The court therefore quashed the decision of the district court and remanded the case.