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Spencer Roach believes regulating cosmetic and beauty products should be left up to the state.

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Spencer Roach thinks straw ban fight over for now

The North Fort Myers Republican recaps Session to Lee County constituents.

State Rep. Spencer Roach was among lawmakers who once championed a pre-emption of straw bans.

But following a veto by the Governor, the North Fort Myers Republican doesn’t expect the bill to come up again soon.

“He made a very compelling case for local government,” Roach said, referencing a letter accompanying DeSantis’ first veto.

He now points to the issue as an example of the valuable tension between the executive and legislative chambers of the Legislature.

While he maintains governments should have much more data before pre-empting the use of any item, he won’t waste more oxygen on straw rights. Notably, he does still see a need to stop localities from banning sunscreen.

At a Lee Republican Women Federated meeting, Roach reported back on the 2019 Legislation Session.

Roach said his first Legislative Session lived up to many expectations but also defied some.

“In some ways, Tallahassee was exactly what I thought it would be, but in some ways, it’s vastly different,” he said.

He touted successes like a foster care bill. He also acknowledged stalled battles like parental consent legislation.

He worked with state Sen. Ben Albritton on the child welfare measure. Both he and the Bartow Republican have spent much of the private time working with foster care, Roach through the Guardian ad Litem program.

The primary focus for Roach, he said, was making sure children moved into foster care have their cases resolved within a year. That avoids the traumatizing experience of children moving from home to home.

“We have 34,000 children in the foster care system, some of whom have been allowed to languish for some time,” he said.

He acknowledged controversial issues like a so-called sanctuary cities ban.

He pushed back on characterization of a school safety measure as “arming teachers.” The training for teachers to carry arms exceeds the requirements for police officers, he noted.

That bill became one of the only one Roach argued for on the House floor. He told the crowd he felt good about the legislation letting school districts make the final choice.

But he felt confident that allowing some teachers to be trained in the state Guardian program would make it less likely shooters successfully attacked campuses. That’s because shooters often know the best times to slip past the security provided by school resource officers.

He also made note that in the notorious Parkland shooting, a student resource office his from the shooter (Roach filed a failed bill to deny Scot Petersen his pension). Meanwhile, an unarmed coach, Aaron Feis, died blocking the shooter’s way.

“I would like Aaron Feis to have had a gun,” he said.

Roach said he certainly was startled in Tallahassee by the extraordinary sway the Speaker of the House and Senate President hold on legislation.

But he spoke highly of Speaker José Oliva, who reminded freshman lawmakers early the responsibility of service. Only about 3,000 Floridians ever served in the House, Roach recalled, a figure he heard from the Speaker.

He told the story of how Oliva asked lawmakers early on to look at the buttons on their desks that take yes and no votes.

“Every time you push one of those buttons, you are affecting the lives of 21 million people,” Roach recounted from the speech.

“If it ever gets easy to push that red or green button, he said, ‘it’s time for you to go home.’”

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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