If Florida lawmakers have their way, state laws on single use plastics could trump city ordinances.
One of the big reasons many cities in Florida have banned the distribution of single use plastic straws is due to marine life pollution and waterway pollution. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) website has had an ongoing “Skip the Straw” campaign to discourage the deluge of single use plastic straws in the environment.
Under Senate Bill 588 local governments will not be able to regulate the use of single use plastic straws if this bill passes a Senate vote. As of March 5, 2019, it passed the Commerce & Tourism Committee by a vote of 3-1. It is scheduled for a vote by the Community Affairs Committee in April. SB 588 is sponsored by Senator Travis Hutson (R-St. Augustine), and if approved by lawmakers, it will take effect on July 1st.
SB 588 was also amended to include a study to be carried out by Department of Environmental Protection to look into the effects of plastic straws on the environment and impose a five-year moratorium on local plastic ban. Local governments would NOT be able to ban plastic straws until 2024 when the results of the study are out.
HB 603 is an identical bill to SB 588, sponsored by Florida Representative Anthony Sabatini (R). According to Sabatini, “The decision to use plastic straws should be made by the citizens, not government; the decision to offer plastic straws should be made by the business owners – not the government.” His bill did not include a study or a moratorium.
These two bills would prevent local governments from banning plastic straws.
Sabatini said, “a municipality, county or other local governmental entity may not adopt, enforce, or implement any ordinance, rule or law that would further restrict a food service establishment from distributing single-use plastic straws to customers.”
SB 588 and HB 603 will be challenging to local jurisdictions. Remember the constitutional revision in 1968 that granted cities and county government corporate and proprietary powers to deal with local issues?
SB 502 is a proposal by Senator Kevin Rader (D) of Delray Beach that would prohibit plastic carryout bags and straws; Prohibiting a store or food service business from providing a carryout bag made of plastic film to a customer; prohibiting a food service business from selling or providing single-use plastic straws to customers, etc.
In 2008 Florida legislature restricted local governments from enacting plastic bag laws until a study was conducted by the DEP. In 2010, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) completed its study and proposed guidelines regulating single use plastic bags, but the state has yet to act on them.
Coastal cities like Marco Island could be waiting a very long time to rid its beaches and waterways of discarded single-use plastic straws and plastic bags.