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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – An appeals court Wednesday rejected a challenge to a 2019 state law that made major changes in the operation of expressways in Miami-Dade County.

A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned a Leon County circuit judge’s ruling that the law was unconstitutional because it violated Miami-Dade County’s home-rule powers.

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The law, which passed after heavy debate among Miami-Dade County legislators, abolished the longstanding Miami-Dade County Expressway Authority and replaced it with a new entity called the Greater Miami Expressway Agency.

The expressway authority quickly filed a multi-count lawsuit challenging the measure. Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled that the law was what is known as a “local law” that applied only to Miami-Dade County and, as a result, violated its constitutional home-rule powers.

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But in Wednesday’s decision, the appeals court said the Miami-Dade County Expressway Authority lacked legal standing to challenge the law and, as a result, the case should be dismissed.

The decision was based on what is known as the “public official standing doctrine,” which blocks public officials from challenging the constitutionality of laws.

“(The) Miami-Dade County Expressway Authority lacks standing under the public official standing doctrine because it is a state agency attacking the constitutionality of the 2019 (law),” said the decision, written by Judge Brad Thomas and joined by Judges Timothy Osterhaus and M. Kemmerly Thomas. “And contrary to the expressway authority’s arguments, no exception to that doctrine applies here.”

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