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Pinellas’ Jack Latvala lauded as Home Rule hero

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Three state lawmakers have been recognized by the Florida League of Cities for their dedication to ensuring localities are able to function without too much state interference.

Among the recipients is Pinellas County state Sen. Jack Latvala. He is one of three recipients of the League of Cities Defender of Home Rule Award.

Fort Lauderdale state Sen. Chris Smith and state Rep. George Moraitis were also awarded.

“Florida’s cities are grateful for the consistent support provided by Senator Latvala, Senator Smith and Representative Moraitis. These lawmakers respect the important role local government plays in the lives of Floridians and we are truly honored they stand tall in Tallahassee for local taxpayers,” said Florida League of Cities Legislative Director Scott Dudley.

According to a press release from the League of Cities, Latvala was recognized as one of this year’s recipients because he “believes the level of government closest to the people is best equipped to address the problems and concerns of citizens in the local community.”

The Florida League of Cities previously recognized Latvala in 2011, 2013 and 2014.

Moraitis was awarded for his commitment to a couple of issues this year. One of those involved regulated “sober homes” where people coming out of rehab were sent to continue recovery. The unregulated homes were becoming a nuisance in South Florida and Moraitis acted in favor of a bill to regulate the homes to help cities battle the problem.

The League of Cities said Smith was recognized for his work on reaching a compromise on legislation helping local governments use local preference ordinances for public construction projects.

The League of Cities was founded in 1922 as a “united voice for Florida’s municipal governments.” The group promotes local self-government and seeks to serve the needs of Florida’s cities.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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