As expected, the Bill of Rights Sanctuary County Ordinance proposed by Commissioner Chris Hall is on Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meeting agenda. It is Agenda Item 9.A.
This was a highly controversial issue when the prior BCC considered it two years ago and is likely to be so again this year. See Proposed Sanctuary County Ordinance Fails on 2-3 Vote, Sparker’s Soapbox, 7/14/21.
If it is something that interests you, see Next Steps at the end of this post and let the commissioners hear your views.
Is the Ordinance Needed?
This ordinance is needed, Commissioner Hall said when he first brought it up at the July 11 BCC meeting, “because in case things ever twist off in Washington, DC, in case things ever twist off, God forbid, in Tallahassee, we’re going to have a Sheriff that’s going to back and honor the Bill of Rights that were given to us in the Constitution of the United States of America. We’re going to have the right to bear arms; we’re going to have the right for due process of law; we don’t have to take soldiers and put them in our house. Every one of those Bill of Rights,” he said. (Video recording at 3:05)
On the other hand, said Commissioner Burt Saunders, the only attorney on the BCC, in an email to a reader, “I do not believe this ordinance is necessary. The County Commission does not have the authority to nullify federal law or lawful federal orders.”
What Does the Ordinance Do?
“Ordinance” is another name for a local law.
The proposed ordinance begins by stating why it is needed:
“WHEREAS the Collier County Board of County Commissioners has growing concerns over the federal government’s increasing encroachment on the rights and privileges of its citizens; and,
“WHEREAS of particular concern are those edicts being promulgated by the federal government in the form of executive orders, which circumvent the legislative process and arguably violate the fundamental American doctrine of separation of powers…”
And it later says:
“Collier County has the right to be free from the commanding hand of the federal government and has the right to refuse to cooperate with federal government officials in response to unconstitutional federal government measures.”
It defines an “unlawful act” as “Any federal act, law, order, rule, or regulation, which violates or unreasonably restricts, impedes, or impinges upon an individual’s Constitutional rights…,” and says that “Any such “unlawful act” is invalid in Collier County and shall not be recognized by Collier County, and shall be considered null, void and of no effect in Collier County, Florida.”
And it states that the Sheriff is charged with the duty to enforce County Ordinances.
The proposal provides that any county employee who is accused of participating in the enforcement of an “unlawful act” could be sued in Circuit Court for declaratory and injunctive relief, damages, and attorneys’ fees.
In addition, “violation of this Ordinance shall be punishable in accordance with Section 1-6 of the Collier County Code of Ordinances (General Penalty), which includes a fine not exceeding $500.00, imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding 60 days, or both.
What Have Commissioners Said?
Commissioner LoCastro (District 1)
Commissioner Rick LoCastro voted for the ordinance in 2021. But “now it’s coming back,” he said on Jul. 11. “Citizens have a chance now to give us new information or convince me that I was wrong.”
Commissioner Hall (District 2)
Obviously, having introduced the ordinance, Hall supports it. His response to emails from those who oppose it stated again why he thinks it is needed:
“First of all, the framers of the constitution had just come out of extreme tyranny from a king and wanted to create a republic that limited powers of the king, or federal government and give the governing power to the people through the states. The powers granted to the federal government were limited and numbered. Thus, the Constitution was created and is the supreme law of the land. So this Ordinance is a protective ordinance for the people. Assuring the God given, inalienable rights provided for in our Declaration will be protected in Collier County should any UNCONSTITUTIONAL laws be passed in D.C., or God forbid, Tallahassee. Our own Sheriff is bound by duty, to protect the same.
”NOTHING CHANGES, UNLESS SOMETHING CHANGES.
”As long as laws being passed by the federal or state government are CONSTITUTIONAL, they will remain the law of the land. It’s only if any laws are passed contrary to that, this ordinance protects the people.”
Commissioner Saunders (District 3)
Saunders voted against the ordinance in 2021. As noted above, he does not believe the BCC has the authority to nullify federal law or lawful federal orders.
Commissioner Kowal (District 4)
Kowal made no mention of the proposed ordinance in his Jul. 31 constituent newsletter, but his position might be gleaned from comments he made when running for election in 2022. He told the Christian Family Coalition that “I am the only candidate willing to protect and preserve your God-given rights.” He also said, in response to my 2022 candidate questionnaire, that he “disagreed with the [BCC] vote to mask our citizens and violate their basic constitutional rights.” (The mask order led to the ordinance’s introduction at the time.)
Commissioner McDaniel (District 5)
McDaniel introduced the same ordinance in 2021. “This isn’t a political issue, this isn’t a party issue, this is an American issue,” he said at the time. “It’s something I think we can do just as an additional step to offer assurances to our community. We are going to support their God-given rights.”
At the Jul. 11 BCC meeting, he said he supported Hall’s efforts to bring it forward. In emails recently shared with me, he said noncommittally, “I carefully consider all information and comments when items are presented to the Board of County Commissioners.”
The proposed ordinance will be considered and voted on at a Public Hearing. A vote of at least three commissioners is required to pass.
When: August 22 (Agenda Item 9.A.) scheduled for 10:30 am.
Where: Board of County Commission Chambers, Collier County Government Center, 3299 Tamiami Trail East, 3rd Floor, Naples, FL 34112.
Watch Online: The meeting will be live-streamed on Collier TV here.
Members of the public will have the opportunity to provide public comments remotely, as well as in person, during the meeting.
Those who wish to speak in person must sign up before the agenda item is introduced.
Those who wish to speak remotely must sign up before the 9 am start of the meeting. Click here to register to speak remotely.
You may also comment directly to the commissioners by email: