Plastic Pollution

Florida Legislature Passes Moratorium on Straw Bans

The bill represents a win for defenders of plastic straws

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After a long string of policy defeats, supporters of the single-use plastic straw finally scored a win yesterday when the Florida legislature passed a bill prohibiting local governments from banning plastic suckers.

In a mostly party-line vote, the Florida Senate passed HB 771, which bars cities and counties from adopting or enforcing any regulation of plastic straws for the next five years.

The bill would also require the state legislature's in-house research organization to issue a report in December on the "data and conclusions" used by local governments when passing their straw laws. That's a welcome provision given how often bogus straw stats are cited by legislators and city officials, or even incorporated into the text of straw bans.

Florida cities were some of the first adopters of plastic straw regulations. Miami Beach enacted a ban on beachside businesses handing out straws all the way back in 2012.

Currently, 10 Florida cities have either straw bans or more modest straw-on-request laws (which prohibit food service businesses from handing out straws unless a customer specifically requests one).

By forbidding the enforcement of straw regulations, HB 771 effectively nullifies these laws for the next five years. Barring any future legislative changes, cities can start enforcing their straw laws again come 2024.

That makes the bill's passage a partial victory, but a welcome one nonetheless, given the unmitigated string of defeats opponents of straw bans have suffered over the past year or so.

HB 771 also offers one possible way to combat the spread of straw bans in the future by taking decisions about straws away from ban-happy city councils and turning them over to (occasionally) more sensible state legislatures.

State-level preemption laws have already helped turn back local bans on plastic bags (yesterday's favorite target of environmentalists) in places like Minneapolis and Austin.

In addition to Florida, straw ban preemption bills have been introduced in the Colorado and Utah legislatures, although neither has passed.

Some libertarians might bristle at the idea of taking decisions away from localities.  However, for those who have a low tolerance for municipal stupidity, Florida's straw ban is good news.

Straws make up a tiny portion of America's plastic litter, which in turn makes up a tiny portion (about 1 percent) of global plastic pollution. Banning them will have approximately zero impact on the world's oceans.

Having passed the state House of Representatives earlier this week, HB 771 goes to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for signing.

NEXT: This One Chart About Global Aging Changes Everything

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  1. Banning them will have approximately zero impact on the world’s oceans.

    Ah, but this “harmless” ban helps get The People ready for the *real* bans. Sort of like TSA searches.

    1. just like if we legalize pot, toddlers will soon be doing heroin on the streets.

  2. This ban on banning concealable blowguns will have a significant impact on Florida’s murder rate.

    1. Florida Man always finds a way.

  3. I am still trying to understand why libertarians would be against states preventing localities from passing ignorant authoritarian laws and regulations.

    1. While traveling through these localities, I’d prefer not to be hassled by ignorant authoritarians.

      Am I missing something in your question? A state government restraining a municipality’s power to interfere with my liberty sounds pretty libertarian to me.

      1. From the article (3rd paragraph from the bottom):

        “Some libertarians might bristle at the idea of taking decisions away from localities.”

        1. Missed that. It should have read – some “libertarians”

      2. I can see it, as you drive through Nowhere Florida, a cop sees you sipping on a soda with a plastic straw you bought in a previous municipality that did not outlaw straws, pulls you over, handcuffs you, off to jail you go, wait three days to get in court, and pay a big fine. Seems to beat the red light scheme for collecting money from out of towners.

  4. guess what? this is a non issue. not worth writing about. who cares about fcking straws? there are more important issues regarding freedom. This just makes libertarians look like pedantic little cnts.

    1. I care, I care very deeply. It’s another brick in the wall.

      1. i care very little. picking and choosing your battles is a sign of maturity. if you react to plastic straw bans with as much uproar as you do to things that aren’t trivial, people tend to take you less seriously.

        1. These straw bans are a petty bit of authoritarian meddling based on bad statistical analysis. It is just one more appalling thing.

          1. That bitch is just a progressive troll.
            Pay the cunt no heed.

        2. Posting a comment is uproar?

    2. Well because first off most people already think libertarians are pedantic little cnts and they may have a point there.

      Second to be pedantic about it liberty is taken away in the small things, lemonade stands, straws, the thousands of little laws that we don’t pay attention to until every little aspect of our life is controlled by government.

      Third, when I am a grizzled retired old coot at the beach bar in Miami Beach watching the pretty scenery walk by I might want a straw for my bourbon and coke.

      1. “are pedantic little cnts and they may have a point there.” – yup. i’m often ashamed to be associated with some of the alt-right trash types who think they’re libertarian somehow.

        “Second to be pedantic about it liberty is taken away in the small things, lemonade stands, straws, the thousands of little laws that we don’t pay attention to until every little aspect of our life is controlled by government.” – in other words, you’re making a slippery slope argument, which, besides being fallacious, in this case comes across as hysterical.

        “Third, when I am a grizzled retired old coot at the beach bar in Miami Beach watching the pretty scenery walk by I might want a straw for my bourbon and coke.” – good goal, but you’ll be fine without a straw. your freedom is better protected when you can demonstrate to those who would infringe upon it that you can be taken seriously in these types of matters.

        1. Just for the sake of argument

          – Why are you doing something you are ashamed of? You are free to associate as you wish.

          – slippery slope is not necessarily a fallacy if the sequence can be logically linked. I can hardly think of anything, good, product or service, that is not somehow taxed, regulated or controlled by government. It already controls near every aspect of our lives. Straws and lemonade stands are just two more examples.

          There was far less of all that in the past. So the progression of government control from less to more is a fact not a fallacy. That is a cornerstone of libertarian thought.

          – who are you or anyone else to tell me if I need a straw or not ? That is pure slaver thinking. Then you want to dictate what is or is not important and worthy of discussion. How libertarian is that?

        2. Damn, you’re crazy insecure

        3. Just to add. I see your point but do not agree.

          Libertarians are not going to win elections on any grand scale. What strength we do have is because we have principles and those can influence people in positive ways.

          The first three to me are “ what does this mean for individual liberty?” I think we agree on that.

          It is precisely because libertarians care about the small stuff, the lemonade stand or straws, the guy who had his car impounded for no reason, that we have any credibility. If we lose that focus in the name of political expediency than libertarians are no different than democrats and republicans.

    3. Is your “U” chicklet not working?

  5. Hurrah for Florida, but Maine is making up for it by banning single-use foam cups and containers: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/maine-becomes-first-state-to-outlaw-foam-cups-2019-05-01

    I guess I’ll bring my reusable Tupperware the next time I visit a Maine restaurant so that I can bring my leftovers home.

  6. In a mostly party-line vote, the Florida Senate passed HB 771

    There’s another, easier term one can use when describing a ‘mostly’ party line vote. It’s the one they use in Congress when a few RINOs vote with the Democrats.

    ‘Bi-partisan’

    Try it. You might find being honest refreshing.

    1. How did the Democratic Party get hijacked by Greeniacs?

  7. […] policy commission to study the rationale for straw bans. As Reason’s Christian Britschgi put it earlier this week: “That’s a welcome provision given how often bogus straw stats are […]

  8. […] weeks ago, the Florida Legislature overwhelmingly passed HB 771, a recycling bill that included a five-year moratorium on localities passing new plastic straw regulations or enforcing the ones they already have on the […]

  9. […] weeks ago, the Florida Legislature overwhelmingly passed HB 771, a recycling bill that included a five-year moratorium on localities passing new plastic straw regulations or enforcing the ones they already have on the […]

  10. […] weeks ago, the Florida Legislature overwhelmingly passed HB 771, a recycling bill that included a five-year moratorium on localities passing new plastic straw regulations or enforcing the ones they already have on the […]

  11. […] weeks ago, the Florida Legislature overwhelmingly passed HB 771, a recycling bill that included a five-year moratorium on localities passing new plastic straw regulations or enforcing the ones they already have on the […]

  12. It is a growing tactic to pass laws that give standing to parties in a court challenge to then accomplish the opposite of what the law says, rather than leaving the status quo alone. DOMA is the clearest example of this technique. If you desired marriage equality, supporting passage of DOMA was great strategy.

    The ban on soda straw bans was the shiny thing meant to hide the bigger issues inside. Now that the governor vetoed the bill, local governnents can use that veto to support increased bans in future court battles.

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