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 have been filed in previous years 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.”
Th2 2023 Florida Legislative Session began on March 6, 2023. It runs for only 60 days. The bills are always referred to committees in both the state House and the state Senate. (Sadly, the 2022 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.
2022 Legislative Session: Representative Grieco filed a plastics preemption repeal bill in the House HB 6063, and Senator Stewart filed a plastics preemption repeal bill in the Senate S 320. These bills were never heard because the Committee Chairs refused to place them on an agenda for discussion. Beginning in 2023, preemption repeal bills now count as bill slots and representatives are limited in the number of bills they can file.
2023 BAD BILL ALERT:
Alert from Friends of the Everglades:
House Bill 1197 (Maggard) and its Senate counterpart, Senate Bill 1240 (Burgess) would strip municipal and county governments of their authority to regulate water quality, water quantity, pollution control, pollution discharge prevention or removal, and wetlands, including delineation of wetlands.
It’s the latest attempt by the Legislature to “preempt” local authority and instead delegate authority solely to the state.
The problem is, local governments across Florida already have the type of regulations prohibited by these bills; there’s no language in the legislation suggesting that these local ordinances would be preserved.
Ask your state representative and state senator to OPPOSE HB 1197/SB 1240. Vote NO.
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 support or oppose a bill? Don’t forget to follow up. Always hold your elected officials accountable.
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 rule on this issue. Please take action to reduce single use plastics statewide or at least work to remove the preemptions. I would like you to OPPOSE HB 1197/SB 1240, and instead, 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.
State bills must advance through committees in order to pass
The Florida Legislative Session runs 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 the Committee Chairs and ask them to place priority bills on their meeting agendas to be considered after they are filed. Please help us with this in March 2023.
CONSIDER WRITING A LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
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.
Bill that would allow voluntary pilot programs to reduce single-use plastics filed in 2022 and 2023
Rep. Mooney and Senator Rodriguez filed bills that would have allowed coastal municipalities with certain populations voluntarily create a pilot program to regulate certain single-use plastics. However, in order to get the conversation going and even have a chance at any amendments, these bills needed to be placed on an agenda in a committee meeting. Rep. Buchanan (House) and Senator Brodeur (Senate) refused to discuss these bills in their Committees. The bills died.
Rep. Mooney and Senator Rodriguez have filed these bills again this year. They are HB 363, SB 336. Ask your FL representative and FL senator to cosponsor and support these bills.
UPDATE: 2023 Bill withdrawn.
Governor DeSantis signs Senate Bill 1764– Veto failed.
Senate Bill 1764 will throw hundreds of millions of Florida taxpayer dollars at the state’s trash incinerators. Incineration is the most expensive and polluting way to manage waste or to make energy. It’s dirtier than burning coal, and worse than landfilling waste directly. Unfortunately, Governor DeSantis signed this bill.
More info here. We need to educate our elected officials about the harm of incineration.
Email Governor DeSantis
You can also email Governor DeSantis. Mayor Coniglio of Palm Beach wrote to Governor DeSantis, asking for support on the issue of single-use plastics regulation. 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.
What does Governor DeSantis think about preemption on plastics? Well, the state legislature tried to preempt plastic straw laws. A bill was passed to stop local governments from enacting plastic straw ordinances. Luckily, Governor DeSantis vetoed that bad bill. Read the veto letter here.
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.
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. It means that you are turning advocacy into action. You can lobby in your home district office (if your state has local district offices) or at the capitol. Anyone can and should 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
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.
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
Polystyrene Rulemaking from the Florida Department of Agriculture
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services had 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.
Read a sign-on letter sent by coalition partners to the Division of Food Safety regarding the polystyrene rulemaking.
Dec 10– Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried signed off on her proposed new rules for elimination of polystyrene packaging in stores and businesses her department regulates and is sending those rules to the Legislature, seeking ratification.
Fried announced that she signed off on the rules to eliminate polystyrene packaging, after several months of public hearings and rule-making by her department. Read more here.
UPDATE: The Florida Legislature chose not to ratify this rulemaking.
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.
Are Floridians allowed to litter balloons? What can we do about balloon releases?
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.” These balloons often include strings that can entangle wildlife and do not degrade easily in a marine environment.
You can ask your state lawmakers to update our state statute to prohibit 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.
UPDATE: Thank you, Rep. Chaney and Senator Pizzo! Rep. Chaney and Senator Pizzo have filed bills that would prohibit intentional balloon releases (littering balloons) statewide. Ask your state representative to cosponsor HB 91 and ask your state senator to cosponsor SB 1512. https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2023/91
Note: Sky lanterns are illegal in the state of Florida.
FFPC 1:10.10.9.3 The use of unmanned, free-floating sky lanterns and similar devices utilizing an open flame shall be prohibited. Read more here.
Florida State Statute 791
791.02 Sale of fireworks regulated; rules and regulations.—
(1) Except as hereinafter provided it is unlawful for any person, firm, co-partnership, or corporation to offer for sale, expose for sale, sell at retail, or use or explode any fireworks;
791.01 Definitions (4)(a) “Fireworks” means and includes any combustible or explosive composition or substance or combination of substances or, except as hereinafter provided, any article prepared for the purpose of producing a visible or audible effect by combustion, explosion, deflagration, or detonation. The term includes blank cartridges and toy cannons in which explosives are used, the type of balloons which require fire underneath to propel them, firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, roman candles, dago bombs, and any fireworks containing any explosives or flammable compound or any tablets or other device containing any explosive substance.
Note: The Florida State Legislature legalized fireworks on 3 days of the year: July 4th, New Years Eve, and New Years Day.
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. Share your thoughts here:
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