As Senate Moves Forward With Sunscreen Preemption, Counties Ask State Lawmakers To Honor Home Rule

Jan 22, 2020

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One of the first bills ready for a vote by the full Senate would stop local governments from regulating sunscreen. It’s one of several preemption bills that has been filed this session.

Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Orange Park) is sponsoring Senate Bill 172, which prevents cities from banning sunscreen.

"People who travel to Florida come here to spend time outside. We're the Sunshine State," But Bradley said.

He says that's why a Key West ban on certain types of sunscreen doesn't makes sense.

Key West passed a ban on certain sunscreens due to a concern some ingredients could harm coral reefs.  Bradley doesn’t buy it. He cited a state report published last year.

"They reviewed all these studies about coral reefs and the potential negative effects of oxybenzone and octinoxate," explained Bradley. "They concluded that any negative effects of those ingredients on coral would happen at concentration levels that are not normally found in nature."

But Key West Commissioners want to be able to make their own decision, says Florida Association of Counties spokeswoman Jennifer Laxner.

Laxner says the sunscreen preemption bill isn’t just about sunscreen.

"At the heart of the issue is not the preemption itself and the control of the policy. It’s more that the government remain accessible and efficient to the communities," Laxner said. "Matters can be handled at the local level instead of needing to navigate the state legislative process."

The legislature has overridden local officials on everything from guns to minimum wages. Last year, lawmakers passed a measure that would stop local bans on single-use plastic straws, but it was vetoed by Governor Ron DeSantis.

"He sort of backed up the counties being proactive in this issue and gave it some validity," said Laxner.

Senate Bill 172 is on its on third reading in the Senate. A similar version in the House version is on its third committee stop.