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Florida Lawmakers Block Local Governments From Enforcing Bans On Plastic Straws

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – At Yolo in Fort Lauderdale they've switched out plastic straws for paper straws, with a goal to reduce plastic usage by 75 percent.

According to Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, restaurants across the city are making similar strides.

"Businesses all over the city have already changed over [from plastic straws to paper straws]", he said.

Banning plastic straws is a big deal. Research shows that hundreds of millions of plastic straws are used in the U.S. every day and straws are the 11th most found trash in the oceans, choking fish and marine life and causing other environmental problems.

While businesses are free to get rid of plastic straws, a bill passed by the Florida Senate and now headed to Governor Ron DeSantis would prevent cities like Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach from banning plastic straws for five years while the state studies the issue.

Fort Lauderdale's ban is set to go into effect in January. Miami Beach's ban is already in effect.

"It's disheartening to think that people in Tallahassee know what's going on in Fort Lauderdale," Trantalis said.

The bill that passed the Florida Senate says cities and local governments should not be able to ban plastic straws for several reasons, including "…single-use plastic straws comprise less than 1 percent of waste and litter."

The bill also said, "alternatives…may have equivalent environmental drawbacks or have reduced utility in certain beverage types."

Another issue for supporters was the free will of business owners.

"Businesses should be free to decide the best manner in which to serve their customers," the bill reads.

Trantalis thinks these reasons are misguided.

"Anyone who lives in a coastal community knows very much how important it is to preserve our waterways and our wildlife," he said.

Supporters of the bill in Tallahassee say if their research is completed sooner they could come back next legislative session and make a change instead of waiting 5 years. Trantalis thinks an issue this important should not take this long to figure out.

"What are they gonna study in 5 years? What's gonna happen in 5 years that can figure out in 5 months or 5 weeks?" he said.

"It didn't take us long to realize how important it was to save the community. I don't think it should take them that long either."

It's also unclear how this bill, if signed by DeSantis, would impact bans that are already in place.

Trantalis said DeSantis is expected in Fort Lauderdale next week and he plans to lobby the Governor to not sign the bill.

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