The ruling from Monday’s hearing sides with the state’s motion to dismiss the case.
Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper has ruled to dismiss the case brought by Pinellas County against a new statute that would put two of the Commission’s single-member seats up for election in 2022.
The ruling from Monday’s hearing sides with the state’s motion to dismiss the case, which was brought by the Board of County Commissioners. The lawsuit sought a preliminary injunction to block changes brought by a provision of the new election law.
The Board hoped to overturn a portion of one of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ priority bills (SB 524), which he signed near the end of April. Several Commissioners felt the county was targeted by lawmakers because the measure only affect Pinellas County.
The provision is folded into the new law which overhauls state election rules. It requires County Commissioners elected in single-member districts to run for re-election after decennial redistricting, including those elected in 2020. The proposal as written would uniquely impact Pinellas County, which alone meets the criteria under the legislation. It would require two Commissioners — Rene Flowers and Karen Seel — to run for re-election after only serving two years of a four-year term.
The Commission decided to pursue legal action in a 4-2 vote on April 26 at a County Commission meeting, filing suit three days later.
In the lawsuit, the county challenges the provision’s constitutionality on two grounds. First, the Board alleges the measure is an illegal bill of local application against the Florida Constitution, and second, that it applies retroactively by shortening the terms of already elected Commissioners.
“It shortens the four-year terms of two incumbent County Commissioners, who were duly elected by the electors to four-year terms in 2020,” the Board’s complaint reads.