More local governments consider plastic straw restrictions

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed five bills from the 2019 legislative session including one that would have temporarily blocked local governments from banning plastic straws.

Plastic straws are among the top five items collected off Florida beaches each year, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. (Pixabay)

Since the bill was vetoed, more local governments in Florida are considering prohibitions on single-use plastics. Plastic straws are among the top five items collected off Florida beaches each year, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Nearly two dozen local governments in Florida have chosen to either limit or outright ban plastic straws.

“It's one tool in the toolbox. It's good to have a lot of tools available," said Beth Alvi with Audubon Florida. "It helps with protection of water quality, restoring our water bodies.”

If not for the Governor vetoing the proposed legislation, local plastic straw bans would have been put on hold until at least 2024.

Across the street from the Capitol building, Leon County Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley saw the Governor’s veto as an opportunity.

“His veto to me said, 'No, we want all hands on deck,'” said Lindley. "'We have problems and we would like to know what our communities around the state are doing.'”

Lindley said the commission will consider a few different options for discouraging the use of plastic straws, but an outright ban isn’t the likely choice.

“One of them is to simply do kind of an educational outreach program, which I like,” said Lindley.

In the Governor’s veto letter, he said if people want to keep using plastic straws, they can elect local officials who feel the same way.

Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director of the Florida Conservation Voters, said she expects just the opposite.

“Constituents around the state are rising up saying, 'We actually don't think single-use plastics are as important to us as wildlife protection, as clean water,'” said Moncrief.

That could put more pressure on state lawmakers to act on the issue.

While local governments are free to ban plastic straws, for the time being, they are prohibited under state law from banning other single-use plastics such as plastic shopping bags.