TALLAHASSEE — In his first veto, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday rejected a bill that would have blocked local governments from banning plastic straws.
DeSantis, siding with environmental groups and local governments, vetoed the measure (HB 771) just hours after formally receiving it from the Legislature. The bill initially focused on recycling issues but later was expanded to include a five-year moratorium on bans or regulations of plastic straws.
“A number of Florida municipalities, including Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach and Miami Beach, have enacted ordinances prohibiting single-use plastic straws,” DeSantis wrote in a veto message. “These measures have not, as far as I can tell, frustrated any state policy or harmed the state’s interests. In fact, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has encouraged Florida residents, schools and businesses to reduce plastic straw use.
“Under these circumstances, the state should simply allow local communities to address this issue through the political process. Citizens who oppose plastic straw ordinances can seek recourse by electing people who share their views.”
Banning plastic straws has been a controversial issue in Florida and other parts of the country, with environmental groups contending that straws cause massive amounts of pollution and kill marine life.
Also, groups such as the Florida League of Cities objected during this year’s legislative session to proposals that would have prevented local governments from imposing bans — what is known generally as “preempting” local control.
But critics object to imposing plastic-straw bans on businesses and say a voluntary approach is better. In a February blog post, the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association urged hospitality businesses to take steps such as providing plastic straws only when requested by customers and considering the use of straws made of other materials.
The association said businesses that have multiple locations can find it “confusing and burdensome” when some local governments regulate plastic straws and others do not.
“Every business should be free to serve its customers in the lawful manner in which it sees fit,” the blog post said. “Some companies decide that providing disposable items such as straws does not fit with their culture and identity. Others may take a different approach, and there is space for both in Florida.”
In addition to the veto on the plastic-straw issue, DeSantis signed seven bills Friday.
The included a bill (HB 7098) that will carry out a constitutional amendment about death benefits for law-enforcement officers, firefighters, other first responders and military members who are killed while on duty. The constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 7, was approved by voters in November.
Also, DeSantis signed a measure (HB 523) that clears the way for the public Halifax Hospital Medical Center to open a hospital in Deltona after a legal battle. Similarly, the other bills involve issues in specific areas of the state.
They were HB 193, which deals with Charlotte County; HB 745, which deals with Alachua County; HB 1063, which deals with the city of Palm Bay; HB 1099, which deals with the city of Kissimmee; and HB 1175, which deals with the village of Indiantown.