Local Plastic Straw Bans to be Banned if Florida State Republicans Have Their Way

“I realized that I was kind of putting my own thoughts into this. … It was government overreach. So what I did was file an amendment that would put a moratorium but give us a study.”

Florida Senator Travis Hutson

The headlines read: “Florida lawmaker wanted to ban plastic straws. He ended up with a ban on banning them” when, last week, multiple news sources printed a report by Samantha J. Gross regarding Florida Senate Bill 588:

The Senate Commerce and Tourism committee approved a bill Monday that, instead of taking aim at plastic straw use, sets up a study to look at the effects of plastic utensils. It also puts a five-year moratorium on locally enacted bans on plastic straws.

The amended bill, introduced by committee member Sen. Travis Hutson, now sets up a study to be carried out by the Department of Environmental Protection. Local governments would not be able to ban plastic straws until 2024.

The Miami Herald

The article seems to say Republican Florida Senator Travis Hutson really wanted to ban single-use plastic straws in Florida, but my reading of the bill and other documents leads me to the opposite conclusion. The very title of CS/SB 588 tells us Hutson’s purpose:

“Preemption of Local Regulations”

Prohibiting local government entities from adopting or enforcing local ordinances or regulations relating to single-use plastic straws before a specified date; requiring the Department of Environmental Protection, or an entity designated by the department, to conduct a study evaluating the environmental impact of single-use plastic straws; providing penalties for violations of the moratorium by a local government entity

summary of Senate Bill 588

There are three other bills in front of committees in Florida’s capital, but Hutson is not a co-sponsor on any of them; and a review of Bill Track 50 doesn’t reveal any other legislation he has sponsored or supported that would limit or ban the use of plastic straws.

  • Senate Bill 502: Prohibition of Plastic Carryout Bags and Straws – sponsored by Senator Kevin J. Rader (D) – Prohibiting a store or food service business from providing a carryout bag made of plastic film to a customer; prohibiting a food service business from selling or providing a single-use plastic straw to a customer.
  • House Bill 603: Single-Use Plastic Straws – sponsored by Representatives Anthony Sabatini (R) ; Randy Fine (R) ; Walter Bryan Hill (R) ; Stan McClure (R) ; Daniel Perez (R) ; Spencer Roach (R) – Authorizes food service establishments to distribute single-use plastic straw to customers upon request & to make single-use plastic straws available through self-serve straw dispensers; preempts regulation of single-use plastic straws to state
  • House Bill 1299: Governmental Powers – sponsored by Spencer Roach (R) – …provides that food service establishment may distribute single-use plastic straw to customer only if requested to do so by customer; preempts to state: regulation of single-use plastic straws…

Only Senate Bill 502 seeks to prohibit single-use plastic straws at a state legislative level. The other three bills, including Hutson’s, are actually attempts to reverse local ordinances that ban or limit single-use plastic straws, and to prevent any future local municipalities from passing future local laws to protect their local environments.