Bill allowing small cities to ban plastic bags would obviously be a good for the environment. But will it pass?

click to enlarge Florida lawmakers: Yes, we all like sea turtles, but think about the billionaire industrialists! -
Florida lawmakers: Yes, we all like sea turtles, but think about the billionaire industrialists!

Shoppers carelessly let one or two of the translucent plastic bags accompanying their groceries fly away in the wind.

Storms whip those bags into a frenzy, taking them down the street and into our bays, bayous and beaches, from which they float out into open water.

Turtles mistake them for jellyfish, eat them, and die when the bags block their digestive tract.

Biologists find bits of them in fish; often in the fish we eat.

Our economy, environment and overall quality of life diminish as a result.

And the State of Florida says there isn't a damn thing local governments can do about it.

In 2008, state lawmakers made it illegal for cities and counties to ban plastic bags, tying the hands of local politicians, because of course. 

This week, though, state representative. David Richardson (D-Miami-Dade) filed a disposable bag bill which, if it passes, would allow cities with populations under 100,000 to initiate, if they choose, pilot programs that would ban plastic shopping bags, then study the environmental and economic impacts of doing so.

It would apply to 248 of Florida's 410 cities, according to the US Census Bureau.

Such a reversal on the issue would be huge, because California's 2014 ban on plastic prompted the American Progressive Bag Alliance (notice how they don't use the word "plastic" in their name?) to spend $3 million to get a enough signatures on a petition to put a repeal of the ban on the November 2016 ballot (As of December 31, the group had collected 80,000 of the needed 505,000 to get a place on the state ballot, which equates to $37.50 spent per signature).

The big question in Florida, of course, is whether lawmakers on the appropriate committees will even agree to look at the proposal. After that, of course, the lobbyists that pushed for the 2008 ban on local plastic bag bans will come out of the woodwork to fight this one if it gets to the floor.

If you're interested, the Florida leg of the Surfrider Foundation has listed ways to get involved.

About The Author

Cathy Salustri

Cathy's portfolio includes pieces for Visit Florida, USA Today and regional and local press. In 2016, UPF published Backroads of Paradise, her travel narrative about retracing the WPA-era Florida driving tours that was featured in The New York Times. Cathy speaks about Florida history for the Osher Lifelong Learning...
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