Courtesy of US NEWS
Published September 4, 2023
HOMEOWNERS in Florida have been battling homeowners
associations' right to restrict which flags they fly outside their houses.
As of early March
2023, Florida law only protected a handful of flags from
being restricted by HOAs.
Under the law, they were able to fly the US Flag or Florida
State flag and either a Prisoner of War Flag or another flag
representing one of the armed forces.
This, however, did not extend to protecting flags that
represented or supported first responders.
Inspired by the Blue Line Club in his district, State
Representative James Buchanan sponsored a bill that would
add first responder flags to those already permitted.
"Homeowners associations on this issue have kind of
overstepped their bounds and overreached and we’re happy to
see this legislation moving forward," said Steve Zona,
President of the Florida State Fraternal Order of Police.
The bill would restrict HOAs' power over flag decor
residents chose to put up.
The bill specifically allows the first responder flag to
be, in some form, a combination of one of the previously approved flags.
Under the bill, a first responder includes law enforcement, firefighters,
paramedics, correctional officers, 911 operators, licensed nurses, and
individuals in a statewide search and rescue program.
These flag protections also allow residents to erect a flag pole under
certain specifications, "regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws,
rules, or requirements of the association."
In support of the bill, the National Police Association (NPA) wrote in
testimony to the Florida Legislature.
The statement reads: "The Thin Blue Line flag has been under attack from
those who wish to silence support for law enforcement officers."
This refers to the push-back to the "Blue Lives Matter" movement in the wake
of the 2020 civil rights protests against police brutality.
Both sides of the political aisle have argued over whether it is a symbol of
support for police or a counter-protest of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The flag in question is protected under the bill, featuring a typical US
Flag design, but instead of traditional red, white, and blue, one of the red
lines is switched to blue.
"This flag represents the good that police officers do in our communities
every day," the NPA statement continued.
"It is a powerful reminder of the sacrifices they have made to keep us
The bill would not protect any versions of the flag with writing on it.
"By flying the Thin Blue Line flag, homeowners are expressing their support
for the men and women in law enforcement," the NPA went on.
After amendments and discussion, the bill passed with 39 yeas and 0 nays.
The provisions and protections of the bill went into effect at the beginning