Legislative session in Tallahassee brought various attempts to preempt local decision making on several fronts. With help from the Florida League of Cities and local officials and attorneys, including Roget Bryan, those attempts were thwarted. 

Before a June 2 meeting inside the Founders Park Community Center, Florida League of Cities’ Scott Dudley presented Bryan, attorney for Islamorada, with “Home Rule Hero” distinction for providing analysis and input throughout the 2021 session on bills with ramifications to local municipalities. Florida League of Cities formed in 1922 to shape legislation and share ideas and experiences, and more than 400 cities, towns and villages are members today.

Home rule allows a city to address their community problems with local solutions and minimal or no state interference. Home Rule Hero award recipients are local government officials — both elected and unelected.

With constant attempts to preempt home rule, Dudley said the Florida League of Cities is a resource in Tallahassee to defend local governments’ abilities to make decisions that reflect the citizens’ views and needs. Input from attorneys, like Bryan, assist the league of cities in understanding the impacts of legislation to a city. 

“We can generally read legislation and say ‘We think that’s pretty bad for cities,’ (but) we’ll put a call out to city attorneys and managers,” Dudley said. “Roget is one during the course of the legislation session when we had questions about the impact of a bill in a municipality; he stepped up and let us know what the impacts were going to be in Islamorada.”

Bryan assisted the Florida League of Cities with several complicated bills, including the Bert Harris Act that provide procedures and remedies to land owners whose property is inordinately burdened by local government legislation. The League of Cities has opposed changes that fail to consider everyone’s property rights or create one-sided lawsuits that shift financial burdens to local taxpayers. 

Dudley said Bryan was also helpful with vacation rental and home-based business issues, as well as other legislation considered this year that “doesn’t help municipalities or citizens at all.”

“Roget helped us break it down and helped us understand what the impacts of particular pieces of legislation were going to be where the rubber meets road,” Dudley said. “I’m honored to be here to present to Roget a Home Rule Hero certificate.”

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This is the third straight year that Bryan received the Home Rule Hero honor. Unanimously selected in 2013 by the village council to serve as the first in-house attorney, Bryan offers legal opinions regarding interpretation of village code and Florida statutes. He also represents the village in litigation, prepares and reviews contracts and agreements and assists in drafting ordinances and resolutions. 

Upon receiving the honor, Bryan said it’s a privilege to advocate on behalf of not just Islamorada by municipalities throughout Florida. 

“I’m a huge advocate for home rule. I think this is the most effective layer of government, this is where things that impact citizens matter the most and this is where they are felt the most,” he said. “To be able to help protect our ability to make those decisions for ourselves, it really is a privilege and honor.”

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Jim McCarthy believes in community reporting, giving back and life on the water. A workout fanatic, diver and a bogey-golfer, Jim loves chicken wings, Marvel movies and sports.