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Saturday, August 10, 2019
Law Dismantling Miami-Dade County Expressway Ruled Unconstitutional. (law.com)
Justice was swift. Leon County judge found new law violated Miami-Dade's home rule rights.
Law Dismantling Miami-Dade County Expressway Ruled Unconstitutional
Leon Circuit Court Judge John Cooper ruled the Florida Legislature overstepped the state Constitution by enacting a bill only affecting Miami-Dade County by dismantling the Miami-Dade County Expressway, or MDX.
Reports of the Miami-Dade County Expressway’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
The controversial toll agency, also known as MDX, was granted a new lease on life Friday, following a ruling by Leon Circuit Court Judge John Cooper.
Cooper, who was presiding over a legal challenge brought by MDX against the Florida Legislature for enacting a bill which dissolved and replaced the toll board, declared the transportation organization’s forced dismantling unconstitutional.
The judge based his ruling in part on the home-rule powers afforded to Miami-Dade County in the Florida Constitution, which prohibit the state Legislature from authoring laws that only affect Miami-Dade.
“Look, home rule as it relates to Miami-Dade County is unique to Miami-Dade County,” Cooper said. “It’s special. It’s different. I recognize all that. But it’s in the Constitution.”
The litigation arose over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing of HB385 on July 3. The law provided for the dismantling of MDX, and for a new toll agency, the Greater Miami Expressway Agency, to assume its duties.
MDX was represented in Leon Circuit Court by Stearns Weaver shareholder Eugene Stearns, who did not return requests for comment by press time.
A statement released Friday by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Cooper’s decision marked “a great day for the residents of Miami-Dade County and our constitutional right for home rule.”
“When Gov. Ron DeSantis signed this bill into law on July 3, it was a clear violation of the Florida Constitution’s ‘home rule’ protection of Miami-Dade County’s authority to manage its affairs, including our roadways,” the mayor said.
Gimenez added the Florida Legislature “overreached” with the law, and asked DeSantis “to abide by the ruling, and urge the House of Representatives to skip an appeal.”
“Justice prevailed today, thanks to Judge Cooper’s legal clarity,” he said. “Let’s put aside our differences and start moving forward. Our residents are counting on us.”