On Monday, the Senate Commerce and Tourism committee approved a bill that approves a study to examine the effects of plastic straws. The original bill was supposed to ban the use of plastic straws. Instead, this bill prevents local governments from banning plastic straws until 2024.
The bill was introduced by Senator Travis Hutson and the study will be conducted by the Department of Environmental Protection. A previous version of the bill required restaurants to give out plastic straws, only at the request of the customer, not automatically.
If a local government attempts to ban plastic straws or take any action to prevent the usage of plastic straws, the local government will be fined $25,000. This amended bill is a step back for those who wanted to eliminate plastic straws in Florida, to protect the environment.
In the past few years, people have been campaigning against the use of plastic straws in Florida, especially because of the environmental effect of plastic straws. A few local businesses in Coral Gables, St. Petersburg, Miami Beach, and Fort Lauderdale have been proactive, switching out plastic straws for paper.
The "Skip the Straw" campaign was launched by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Environmental protection has been on the mind of Floridians for a couple of years, not just with plastic straws.
Coral Gables, in 2016, voted to ban the use of Styrofoam containers. Coral Gables took this action even after the Florida Legislature passed a law that prohibited local governments from banning polystyrene products.
Florida representatives have been cautious of plastic items because of Florida's wildlife and waterways. Holly Parker-Curry, a member of the Surfrider Foundation, is against the bill to study the effects of plastic straws. She stated that the effect of plastics can clearly be seen based on how much plastic is found on the beach, just in a short clean up. Parker-Curry is adamant that a study is not needed, and action needs to be taken.
More details about the bill can be found here.