Opinion: Tallahassee knows best

Austin W Belet, Opinions editor

Governor DeSantis, in a surprising move, blocked the Florida legislature from banning municipalities banning plastic straws.

That is a mouth full, so give me just a second to explain.

Back in February, Florida representatives Overdorf and Clemons sponsored a bill (HB 771) that, among other things, “prohibits local government entities from adopting or enforcing ordinances & regulations relating to single-use plastic straws…

After having cleared easily through the Florida House and Senate, the only thing left to do was to get Governor DeSantis to sign off on the bill.

By signing off on this bill it strips municipalities of their ability to ban single use plastic straws.

The story of HB 771 ends with Gov. DeSantis vetoing the bill, thus allowing cities like Miami or Jacksonville to ban straws if they wanted to.

So why bother talking about it?

This bill does a lot more than just preventing municipal governments from banning straws, but it also details the kinds of codes and contracts that will be enforced by local governments. This is a primary example of Tallahassee telling Duval, Brevard, Seminole, or any other county you can list, how they are going to conduct their business.

One of the sticking points I have heard time and time again from politicians on either end of the political spectrum is how Tallahassee doesn’t know what the counties individually need. This legislation proves this.

While a single use straw isn’t what Marion county is concerned about, perhaps the voters of Monroe county don’t want to see islands of straws in the Keys. Maybe the dock provisions laid out in the legislation didn’t go far enough for Broward county.

Or maybe the key is to set out goals and let the municipalities determine how to meet them.

Micro-legislating has always been an issue in Florida and this bill was just another example of it. I’ll applaud Gov. DeSantis on his vetoing of this particular piece, but there is still plenty of legislation that says “Tallahassee knows best” that is on the books.

When we elect state level politicians, we should be electing the people who want to ensure that the state is meeting broad goals and providing the resources to allow for local governments to take care of their citizens instead of telling them how to do it.


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