Residents are encouraged to voluntarily use non-plastic straws and reusable bags in the wake of Florida lawmakers voting to prohibit enforcement of plastic straw bans by local governments for the next five years. SC file photo
Residents are encouraged to voluntarily use non-plastic straws and reusable bags in the wake of Florida lawmakers voting to prohibit enforcement of plastic straw bans by local governments for the next five years. SC file photo

EDITOR’S NOTE: After this story was published, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed the environmental bill, HB 771, which would have put a five-year moratorium on local plastic straw bans.

Sanibel City Council members voiced their disappointment with the state’s injunction on enforcing local plastic straw bans for the next five years and voted to examine possible next steps at the June council meeting.

Mayor Kevin Ruane requested city attorney John Agnew provide insight on the state’s prohibition on local governments’ ability to enforce a ban on plastic straws. Ruane is seeking facts and reasons for the preemption to have a constructive discussion. One interest is the effect on the Home Rule, a provision in which cities and counties are allowed to enact ordinances without the state’s approval.

Don’t allow this infringement upon our Home Rule to deter you from your mission,” said Councilman Richard Johnson, as an appeal to the public.

Johnson, along with Councilwoman Holly Smith, encouraged residents and business owners to pursue “doing the right thing” by voluntarily using non-plastic straws and reusable bags. Johnson added the Bring Your Own Bag program at his business, Bailey’s General Store, that is in partnership with the non-profit Coastal Keepers, has been a very good direction for the community.

Ruane also requested to discuss options on plastic bags at the June council meeting. “We can work on two parallel paths – one with straws, two with bags – but we can get some more information, so we can have a productive conversation,” he said.

The state’s preemption on plastic straw bans will go into effect July 1 and expire July 1, 2024. During that time, the research arm of the legislature is required to conduct a study of “each ordinance or regulation adopted” by local governments. It is supposed to focus on the “data and conclusions” used in adopting such ordinances.