That’s a wrap: Bill letting local governments ban plastics fails to advance

Critics of the preemption warn that plastic bags can kill animal life and pollute the state.

Legislation to repeal the state’s preemption on local governments banning single-use plastic containers and plastic bags has died this Session.

Current state law forbids Florida cities and counties from passing their own bans to protect the environment from those plastics.

Orlando Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart’s bill sought to remove the preemption of recyclable and polystyrene materials. SB 498 was assigned to three Senate committees but did not get a hearing. It also did not have a House companion.

Similar efforts to give local governments more control have previously failed in Florida.

Stewart is term-limited and ending her career in the Senate. She was not immediately available for comment Wednesday. Lawmakers remain in Session until March 8.

On the other side, Republican-introduced legislation that would have added new preemptions for to-go containers also won’t move through this Session. It didn’t advance out of committee in either chamber. 

SB 1126 preempts to the state the regulation of auxiliary containers, defined by the bill as reusable or single-use bag, cup, bottle, or other packaging designed for transporting, consuming, or protecting merchandise, food, or beverages from or at a food service establishment or retailer,” according to staff analysis of the bill sponsored by Sen. Jonathan Martin, a Republican from Fort Myers.

His bill was unanimously passed 4-0 by the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee on Jan. 16, then was postponed by the Community Affairs Committee on Feb. 1. The House companion bill (HB 1641), filed by GOP Rep. Brad Yeager, was passed by the Agriculture, Conservation & Resiliency Subcommittee on Jan. 24 but then didn’t get called to a hearing at the House State Affairs Committee meeting on Feb. 12. 

Environmentalists have sought to challenge the state’s preemption on plastic bags, arguing that garbage gets into Florida’s waters and kills animal life.  

“These products make up the majority of the litter collected during cleanups around our state. It doesn’t make sense to ban local governments from trying to create healthier communities for wildlife and residents.” said Environment Florida advocate Mia McCormick, who argued against SB 1126.

Last year, bills regulating single-use plastics also failed to advance in the Legislature as environmentalists acknowledged the steep fight against the fossil fuel and retail industries to change the law.

Meanwhile, California has pushed major reforms, requiring single-use packaging and plastic single-use food serviceware be recyclable or compostable by 2032 among other changes, according to CNN.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn