Not only does Florida not have a statewide law to regulate single-use plastic/foam, but Florida has preemption laws that prevent local municipalities from taking action to reduce certain single-use plastic/foam. Cities/counties have bans on bans! Cities will actually get sued if they try to completely ban polystyrene foam containers or single-use plastic retail bags. Read about our preemption laws here.
Bills are filed each year to either create a statewide law to reduce things like plastic bags, straws, and polystyrene foam, and/or to repeal our preemption laws. Sadly, they do not pass. A preemption repeal bill would give power back to your local municipalities so that they can better regulate single-use plastics/foam. It’s called “home rule.”
This past Florida Legislative Session ran from March 2nd and ended on April 30, 2021. The bills are always referred to committees in both the state House and the state Senate. Sadly, the 2021 preemption repeal bill did not even get placed on a committee agenda in any of the committees it was referred to, so it wasn’t even heard or considered. Contact was made with the committee Chairs, and they refused to consider the bill. Another year went by without any action on single-use plastics by the Florida Legislature.
Florida either needs to pass statewide laws reducing single-use plastics or give power back to cities and counties so that they can better reduce single-use plastics.
On a statewide level, you can ask your Florida state representatives and senators to take action statewide on plastic/foam reduction, or at least remove the preemptions on plastics/foam to allow municipalities to decide for themselves whether or not to reduce single use plastics.
Emailing is a great idea, but calling their offices is even better. Save the phone numbers of your state elected officials in your phone. The office phone numbers will come in handy during the legislative session when we are supporting and opposing various bills.
In 2021, we supported HB 6027, SB 594 to repeal the preemptions on plastic bags, containers, and polystyrene foam. (HB means House Bill, and SB is the Senate companion bill). We also supported HB 1563/SB 1348 which directed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to update its plastic bag report. (Click on those bill numbers to see if your representative and senator cosponsored those bills). We will be pushing to repeal preemptions again in 2022, and we need your help.
Sample email for your state lawmaker:
My name is ___ and I live at ____. I am very concerned about plastic pollution, and I am outraged that there are preemptions in the state of Florida that prevent my town from passing ordinances to reduce certain single use plastics. Plastic pollution is a threat to our oceans and marine life, to human health, to climate, and to our tourism based economy. There should be statewide action to reduce single use plastics, or local municipalities should have home rules on this issue. Please take action to reduce single use plastics or work to remove the preemptions. I would like you to support a bill to repeal the preemptions on single-use plastic bags and polystyrene foam, and/or a statewide bill to reduce single-use plastics.
Not sure who your state lawmakers are or how to get in touch with them?
Find your FL state representative here.
Find your FL state senator here.
Does your representative agree to cosponsor a bill? Don’t forget to follow up. Always hold your elected officials accountable. Thank them if they agree to cosponsor a bill. Question them if they do not agree to cosponsor a bill.
Consider writing a Letter to the Editor to be published in your local newspaper. Guidance for writing and submitting a Letter to the Editor is here. Name your elected officials in your LTE and say what you’d like them to do.
Don’t let these preemption repeal bills die in committees!
The 2021 Florida Legislative Session ran for 60 days. Committees meet to discuss bills, but if there isn’t public pressure to put these bills on committee agendas, they will not make it out of the committees. They may never even be heard! We need all Floridians to call the offices of these Committee Chairs every Legislative Session.
HB 6027 was referred to the House Regulatory Reform Subcommittee. The Chair of that Committee was Rep. Bob Rommel (Marco Island/Collier). 850-717-5106 It was also referred to the House Local Administration and Veteran Affairs Subcommittee and the Chair was Rep. Jackie Toledo. 850-717-5060 This bill was also referred to the House Commerce Committee and the Chair was Rep. Blaise Ingoglia. 850- 717-5035 None of those Chairs agreed to place the bill on their meeting agenda for consideration.
SB 594 was referred to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. The Chair was Senator Jason Brodeur (Volusia/Seminole County). 850-487-5009 This bill was also referred to the Senate Rules Committee and the Chair was Senator Kathleen Passidomo. 850-487-5028 This bill was also referred to the Community Affairs Committee and the Chair was Senator Jennifer Bradley. (850) 487-5005 None of those Chairs agreed to place the bill on their meeting agenda for consideration.
If this bill had passed, it would have given home rule back to local municipalities, allowing them to take meaningful action to reduce plastic pollution.
Email Governor DeSantis
Preemptions and Home Rule
Have you ever wondered why cities ban plastic straws and not plastic bags, cups, or bottles? It’s because of preemptions.
2021 Bill Filed to Update FL DEP Plastic Bag Report
There is data to show that legislative action to restrict single use plastic bag distribution has resulted in a reduction of plastic bag pollution around the world.
In 2008, Florida lawmakers passed a bill prohibiting our local governments from banning plastic bags until the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) creates recommendations, and they are adopted by the Legislature.
In 2021, Senator Polsky filed a bill that would direct the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to update this bag study. Representative Mooney filed the companion bill in the House. Thank you, Senator Polsky and Representative Mooney, for filing these bills in 2021. This DEP bill language was added to a different bill and passed in 2021. So, the DEP will be updating their Retail Plastic Bags Report before the next Legislative Session.
Local resolutions are a clear expression of the opinions of coastal communities, including business leaders in those communities and local elected officials. They send a message up the political chain, and can be influential in helping state-level elected officials and even members of Congress better understand what their constituents want. Resolutions matter, and you can ask your city can pass a resolution in support of statewide plastics legislation and/or support of home rule. Even if your city isn’t ready to pass an ordinance, they may still agree with the freedom to choose.
Lobbying your legislators
(Source: Indivisible) Lobbying is organizing with the intention of influencing a lawmaker’s decision through direct interaction. You can lobby in your home district office (if your state has local district offices) or at the capitol. Anyone can lobby, even kids! Your elected officials need to hear from you all throughout the year. Save the phone numbers of elected officials. Public pressure works, and your elected officials are there to represent you. Call the offices of your state lawmakers when you want them to support or oppose a bill. Have the bill number handy when you call.
You can also lobby your lawmakers outside of the Legislative Session, when they are at home in your district. Call and schedule a meeting. This way, when the next Legislative Session begins the following year, you can say, “Remember me? Remember our conversation about reducing single-use plastics? I’d like you to cosponsor ____ this session.” It will be easier if you already have a relationship with your elected officials and their staff.
Please Participate in the Legislative Hearings in Your County
You can participate in your county’s legislative delegation hearings before the legislative session begins (usually December-February). At these meetings, all of the state legislators from your county are usually there, and you can speak to all of them at the same time for 2-3 minutes. It’s a good way for all of the state legislators in your county to hear your concerns about plastics and preemptions at the same time, before legislative session begins. You most likely will need to sign up in advance to speak. Keep an eye out in December for this opportunity.
District Office Visits
Call your lawmaker’s district office and ask when they might accommodate a meeting. You can also ask for a Zoom meeting.
If you’re having trouble getting a meeting, send a handwritten letter to your legislators.
Organizing a Legislative Lobby Day at The State Capitol
A lobby day is a powerful tactic that many organizations utilize to influence the state legislative process. For a lobby day, you gather a group of people to take a trip to Tallahassee and hold in-person meetings with legislators and/or their staff. This tactic is powerful because you are showing commitment to your cause and meeting lawmakers in person in their place of work.
Show up at a Town Hall and ask your state representative questions about plastics and preemption in front of an audience and members of the press. Some lawmakers host town halls on Facebook Live.
Local Public Events
Like town halls, these are opportunities to get face time with your legislators and make sure they’re hearing about your concerns. They often take place in district, close to your home. If you’re hosting an event, invite your elected officials to join.
Generating calls to offices doesn’t take as much time as in-person action, but it can have a huge impact at the state level, where staffers are not used to getting a large volume of calls. Organize a large number of volunteers/constituents/friends/classmates to call about plastics on the same day. You can create a Facebook event and invite everyone to call in the same week.
Spread the word on social media!
Sample Facebook Post:
With plastic production growing rapidly and polluting our water, air, and food, local governments shouldn’t be barred from deciding that enough is enough. Join me in calling on our state representatives and senators to repeal the plastic ban preemptions. This will give power back to your local communities. Go to https://plasticfreefl.org/state/ to find out more. #BreakFreeFromPlastic #RiseAbovePlastics #LetLocalsLead
About Bottle Deposits
Can and bottle deposits were originally introduced in Oregon in 1971 as a way to address the growing litter problem along the state’s beaches and highways. Since then, other states have passed similar laws to clean up the roads and encourage recycling.
Bottle bills require the state to offer a minimum refund on beverage containers as a way to increase bottle recycling efforts by consumers. The process works like this:
- When a retailer buys beverages from a distributor, a deposit is paid to the distributor for each container.
- The consumer then pays the deposit to the retailer when purchasing the beverage but will receive a refund of that deposit when the empty container is returned to a redemption center.
- The distributor reimburses the redemption center the deposit amount for each container, plus a handling fee. (Source: Global Trash Solutions)
Read more about bottle deposit bills here.
Are Floridians allowed to litter balloons?
Currently, Florida law prohibits the release of more than 10 helium balloons. This means that the state actually allows Floridians to litter up to 10 balloons into the environment. This state law obviously needs to be updated to prohibit any intentional balloon releases, including balloons falsely marketed as “biodegradable.” You can ask your state lawmakers to pass a law to ban all intentional balloon releases. Read more about why balloons are dangerous for wildlife here.
Some cities have been passing ordinances to ban all intentional balloon releases because of this outdated and harmful state law. In addition, some cities in Florida have been completely banning balloons in all outdoor public areas, such as parks and beaches. Read more about balloon bans on Palm Beach County beaches here.
Ask Florida State Parks to reduce single-use plastics
Ask Florida State Parks to require that all food vendors inside the parks not serve food/drinks in any single-use plastic/foam.
HOME RULE VIDEO (SPANISH)
¿Quieres una forma divertida de comunicar los conceptos básicos del gobierno de la ciudad? ¡Estás de suerte! En preparación para la Semana del Gobierno de la Ciudad de Florida, La Liga ha producido esta caricatura de 13 minutos, perfecta para el público juvenil y más allá. Cubre una variedad de temas que incluyen cartas de la ciudad, formas de gobierno, servicios municipales, impuestos a la propiedad y Autonomía. –Florida League of Cities