Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Plastic straws are out: Ron DeSantis vetoes prohibition of local straw bans

Further bolstering his environmental bona fides, DeSantis gave a full-throated defense to local bans on plastic straws.
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 May 10
Updated May 10

Gov. Ron DeSantis flexed his veto power for the first time late Friday, declining to sign an environmental bill that would have prohibited local governments from banning plastic straws for the next five years.

In his veto letter to Secretary of State Laurel Lee, he said municipalities who prohibit plastic straws have not “frustrated any state policy” or “harmed the state’s interest.”

Under the bill, a study of “each ordinance or regulation adopted” by local governments related to single-use plastic straws would have to be conducted by the Department of Environmental Protection and then submitted to Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, and House Speaker José Oliva, R-Miami Lakes.

RELATED COVERAGE: ‘No straws St. Pete’ sends a message: Stop using plastic straws

The Strawless City: St. Pete bans plastic straws, Styrofoam

Banning the ban? New bills aim to prevent cities from outlawing plastic straws

The study would focus on the “data and conclusions” used in adopting local ordinances instead of the environmental impacts, which had irked environmental groups that argue that there’s enough evidence of the effect of plastic pollution.

The bill initially was meant to ban plastic straws, but was heavily amended during a March committee meeting to do the opposite.

“The state should simply allow local communities to address this issue through the political process,” DeSantis wrote. “Citizens who oppose plastic straw ordinances can seek recourse by electing people who share their views. “

DeSantis hinted strongly at his willingness to let cities ban plastic straws late last month during a visit to Key Biscayne to talk up efforts to create a greener Super Bowl in Miami next year.

Standing just behind the dunes on Crandon Beach, he said “My general view is locals should make decisions and if you don’t like them you can vote someone else in.”

“If they’re doing things that infringe on people’s constitutional freedoms or frustrate state policy then that becomes something that can be ripe for state intervention,” he said. “Unless I see it violating some other principle I usually just let people do that as they see fit.”

In 2008, the Legislature enacted a similar law requiring the Department of Environmental Protection to analyze “the need for new or different regulation of auxiliary containers, wrappings, or disposable plastic bags used by consumers to carry products from retail establishments.”

To date, the Legislature has not adopted any recommendations contained in the report, and campaigns to eliminate plastic straws in Florida have continued to pop up.

The veto upholds a ban approved by St. Petersburg’s City Council late last year on single-use plastic straws as well as expanded polystyrene, more commonly known by its brand name Styrofoam.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, a critic of the Legislature’s habit of limiting the powers of local governments and an ardent supporter of the straw ban, applauded the veto.

“This is a victory not just for local control and home rule, but common sense as well as the environment,” Kriseman said. “The governor’s position on this issue is refreshing and his explanation makes sense. I thank him for his veto of this bill.”

In February 2016, Coral Gables voted to ban the use of Styrofoam containers even after the Legislature passed a law prohibiting cities from banning the polystyrene products. That summer, the city was sued by the Florida Retail Federation Inc., and Super Progreso Inc., who alleged that the ordinance was preempted by state statute. The courts ruled that the ordinance was “valid and enforceable.”

The state’s Department Environmental Protection launched its own “Skip the Straw” campaign earlier this year, and cities like Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach and St. Petersburg have passed regulations about plastic utensils.

Recalling how few vetoes were made during his 10-year career in the Legislature, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said the governor’s veto meant a lot.

“I am very grateful,” Gelber said Friday night. “Our residents want to strive to keep our environment as pristine as possible. I think the governor helped us today. Sometimes I think the Legislature does overreach on some of these issues and obviously, the governor thought so too.”

In a video Gelber shared with lawmakers, he warned that the bill “would have a disastrous impact” on the environment and economy in Miami Beach.

“If our residents don’t want a more pristine beachfront, they will elect different people,” he said.

Miami Herald staff writer David Smiley contributed to this report.



ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, speaks on the floor of the Florida House. Grall is sponsoring a bill for the second time that would require parental consent for minors to obtain an abortion.
    The legislation would enact a consent requirement for minors.
  2. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. "OCTAVIO JONES   |   TIMES"  |  Times
    He could use his position on the Board of Clemency to allow nonviolent felons to serve on juries and run for office.
  3. Rep. Bruce Antone, D-Orlando, says the Legislative Black Caucus will prioritize both public education and school choice during the 2020 Florida session. The caucus held a news conference on Oct. 22, 2019. The Florida Channel
    The caucus announced its 2020 goals for justice, housing and other key issues, as well, with members saying they will stick together to pursue them.
  4. CHRIS URSO   |   Times
Florida Governor elect Ron DeSantis, right, thanks supporters including Ukrainian businessman Lev Parnas, left, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 in Orlando. DeSantis defeated Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    This new fact indicates an attempt to directly influence DeSantis’ early policy agenda as he took office, one that DeSantis said was unsuccessful.
  5. Pre-season baseball practice at Wesley Chapel High School. Lawmakers want to ensure student-athletes remain safe in the Florida heat as they participate in high school sports. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    PreK-12 Innovation chairman Rep. Ralph Massullo expects legislation requiring some ‘simple things.’
  6. President Donald Trump speaking during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS  |  AP
    And few people are on the fence.
  7. Former sheriff of Broward County Scott Israel, right, and his attorney Benedict Knuhne wait their turn to speak to the Senate Rules Committee concerning his dismissal by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Monday Oct. 21, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) STEVE CANNON  |  AP
    The full Senate will vote on the issue Wednesday.
  8. Parents of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a shooter killed 17 people in 2018, push petitions for 2020 ban on assault weapons in Florida. (Miami Herald) MIAMI HERALD
    After months of glitches, the Department of State is resorting to a paper workaround while ballot initiatives face higher costs.
  9. U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney.
    The Naples Republican recently refused to rule out a vote to impeach President Donald Trump.
  10. Former Pasco County Corrections Officer Wendy Miller, 57 runs towards gunfire with instructor Chris Squitieri during active shooter drills taught by Pasco County Sheriff's Office at Charles S. Rushe Middle School in Land O' Lakes. These drills are put are a larger training program for the Guardian program that will staff elementary schools with trained armed guards.  LUIS SANTANA   |   Times "LUIS SANTANA  |  TIMES"  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The change is a reversal of a previous move by the department, which specifically excluded armed teachers from its policy.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement