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St. Pete’s ban on straws in peril if this bill gets support

Plastic straws have become a heavily debated issue, with ban supporters saying the straws end up in landfills or threatening marine life in oceans instead of being recycled.
EVE EDELHEIT | Times Straws sit behind the counter at Banyan Cafe in St. Petersburg on Thursday, June 28, 2018. Straws are now only available to customers who ask for them.
Published Feb. 4
Updated Feb. 4

Local governments wouldn’t be able to regulate single-use plastic straws under a measure filed last week in the House.

The proposal (HB 603) by Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills, says “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.”

In December, the St. Petersburg City Council voted to phase in a ban on the distribution of single-use plastic straws, allowing restaurants to give out straws upon request until 2020. Plastic straws have become a heavily debated issue, with ban supporters saying the straws end up in landfills or threatening marine life in oceans instead of being recycled. Sabatini’s proposal is identical to a measure (SB 588) sponsored by Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine.

The state preemption of local regulations, if approved by lawmakers during the upcoming legislative session, would take effect July 1. “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,” Sabatini said in a prepared statement.

While Sabatini and Hutson look to prevent local bans, Sen. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach, has filed a measure (SB 502) that would prevent grocery stores, restaurants and other businesses that sell food from using plastic carryout bags and providing single-use plastic straws.

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