by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed an environmental bill that would have prohibited cities and counties from enforcing regulations on plastic straws for the next five years. It was swift action by DeSantis – sending his veto letter late Friday, May 10, the same day he received the bill, HB 771.
DeSantis wrote that the measures taken by Florida municipalities with current single-use plastic straw regulations have not “frustrated any state policy or harmed the state’s interests,” as far as he could tell. “In fact, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has encouraged Florida residences, schools and businesses to reduce plastic straw use,” he said in the letter.
Sanibel, as one of 10 cities across the state to have rules governing the use of plastic straws, “applauded” the governor’s action. Council unanimously approved the ordinance in September 2018 and the island non-profit Coastal Keepers reported a decrease in the number of plastic straws littering our beaches since the ordinance went into effect.
The Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation called for its members to compel the governor to veto the bill, and City Council members approved a letter Tuesday, May 7, strongly urging him to do the same.
“Municipalities like Sanibel are setting standards of excellence that benefit and should be embraced by all Floridians,” said SCCF CEO Ryan Orgera, Ph.D. “We thank the governor for upholding our rights to set local environmental polices that exceed those set by the state.”
The Republican bill originally addressed issues with contaminated recyclable materials, but a preemption on plastic straw bans was added. It would have required a study of “each ordinance or regulation adopted” by local governments and was supposed to focus on the “data and conclusions” used in adopting such ordinances.
DeSantis said the state “should simply allow communities to address (the issue of plastic straws) through the political process. Citizens who oppose plastic straw ordinances can seek recourse by electing people who share their views.”
HB 771 is the governor’s first veto following the Legislative session.