State

The Problem:

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.

The Solution:

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.

ACTION ITEM 1:

Senator Stewart has re-filed the preemption repeal bill. Thank you, Senator Stewart. The bill is S 320. Read more here. Ask your state senator to cosponsor S320 to repeal the preemptions on single-use plastic bags and containers. Find your senator here. Staff will answer the phone, and it will just take one minute to leave a message with staff.

Script: “Hello, my name is ___ and I live in your district. I would like Senator ____ to cosponsor S 320 which would repeal the preemptions on single-use plastic bags and containers. Thank you.”

ACTION ITEM 2:

Representative Grieco has re-filed the preemption repeal bill in the House. Thank you, Rep. Grieco. The bill is HB 6063. Read more here. Ask your state senator to cosponsor HB 6063 to repeal the preemptions on single-use plastic bags and containers. Find your representative here. Staff will answer the phone, and it will just take one minute to leave a message with staff.

Script: “Hello, my name is ___ and I live in your district. I would like Representative ____ to cosponsor HB 6063 which would repeal the preemptions on single-use plastic bags and containers. Thank you.”

What happened last Legislative Session?

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.

Because the language in HB 1563/SB 1348 passed, a new plastic bag/container study is being conducted by Florida DEP. As part of this study, a survey is being administered by UF.

Please take the UF/DEP plastics survey here.

Comfortable with social media? Post this photo on social media and tag your FL state elected officials. In your post, ask them to remove the preemptions on single-use plastics.

Sample email for your state lawmaker:

Dear _____,

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. Senator Stewart filed this bill in the Senate and the bill number is S 320. Representative Grieco has filed this bill in the House and the bill number is HB 6063.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

_________

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.

What happened during the last 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

You can also email Governor DeSantis. Mayor Coniglio of Palm Beach wrote to Governor DeSantis, asking for support on this issue. View her letter here.

The Everglades Coalition wrote a letter to Governor DeSantis urging him to take action on plastic pollution. View the letter here.

Rise Above Plastics Advocacy Day 2020: Concerned citizens meet with their state elected officials to ask for action on single use plastics.

You don’t have to travel all the way to Tallahassee to meet with your state elected officials. They have offices in their home districts. You can also call and speak with their staff or write a handwritten letter.

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 2010, the DEP completed the Retail Bags Report that studied the impact of plastic bags. (Of course, we know that the Legislature never adopted it).

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.

Because the language in HB 1563/SB 1348 passed, a new plastic bag/container study is being conducted by Florida DEP. As part of this study, a survey is being administered by UF.

Please take the UF/DEP plastics survey here.

Plastic bags blow easily in the wind, and are often found tumbling down the street, hanging from trees, and floating in our waterways. These are deadly to marine life. Many nations have passed legislation to reduce the use of single-use retail shopping bags.

Local resolutions:

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.

Advocate for local control. Local communities should have a say in the plastics pollution crisis. We need to give them the power to be part of the solution. Photo: LSSC

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.

Making in-person visits to meet with your elected officials, as well as calling their offices, are great ways to influence your elected officials. Don’t worry if you can only get a meeting with staff. Forming good relationships with staff can help you create a direct line of communication to your representatives.

Please Participate in the Legislative Hearings in Your County

Speak in front of all of the state lawmakers in your county!

You can participate in your county’s legislative delegation hearings before the legislative session begins. 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, before legislative session begins. You most likely will need to sign up in advance to speak. Find out when your county delegation is meeting here. Make sure you fill out a form to speak beforehand and turn it in by the deadline. Thank you to 1000 Friends of Florida for keeping us up to date on opportunities to speak at delegation hearings.

Rally your friends, neighbors, environmental clubs, and family members to speak. Ask your state lawmakers to make reduction of single-use plastics a legislative priority. You can also ask them to make repeal of plastic/foam preemptions a priority.

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.

Town Halls

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.

Coordinated Calls

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.

Beaches Go Green travels to Tallahassee for Rise Above Plastics Lobby Day 2020, hosted by Surfrider Foundation.

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 

Beverage container deposit laws, or bottle bills, are designed to reduce litter and increase recycling rates. Bottle bills have been filed in Florida, but have unfortunately died in committees.

Exciting News about Polystyrene Rulemaking from the Florida Department of Agriculture!

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has begun rulemaking to phase out the use of polystyrene products in Florida grocery stores, markets, convenience stores, and other regulated businesses. 

“Polystyrene may be convenient, but there is a hidden danger to public health from these disposable consumer products. Chemicals in polystyrene are not only linked to human and animal health concerns, but because these petroleum-based products take at least 500 years to decompose, their negative effects continue long after they’re thrown away,” said Commissioner Fried. “As Florida’s consumer protection and food safety agency, we have an opportunity to help consumers and companies make a positive change. That’s why I’m excited to announce that we have started the rulemaking process to phase out the use of polystyrene food packaging at the 40,000 grocery stores, markets, and convenience stores that we regulate in Florida. By increasing demand for cost-effective alternative products, this is a huge opportunity to create Florida jobs, at Florida businesses, using Florida-grown crops to create next-generation products that are made in Florida. This vision to phase out polystyrene until reaching zero within this decade is a monumental change for consumers, health, and the environment, joining a third of U.S. states in taking action on this issue.” Read more here.

About Bottle Deposits

Has Florida considered a bottle deposit bill? Yes, a bottle bill was introduced but did not pass.

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.

Oceana participated in Rise Above Plastics Lobby Day 2020 in Tallahassee. Concerned citizens met with their elected officials to ask for home rule on plastics legislation, supporting a bill that would remove the preemptions.

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.

Many animals, both in water and on land, have been hurt or killed by balloons. For more information, go to BalloonsBlow.org

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.

https://www.floridastateparks.org/share-your-thoughts

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

Photo credit: LSSC (Local Solutions Support Center)

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