Florida Lawmakers Consider Preemption on Sunscreen, Straws And Airbnb
How much say should local governments have in passing regulations? That’s been a battle going back years in the legislature. Now, lawmakers are again looking at a variety of preemption bills.
At issue are local regulations on vacation rentals, sunscreens and plastic straws. Several municipalities have already placed restrictions.
But the limit of plastic straws brings a challenge to the disability community.
“This is very much something that the disability community needs access to, that we do not have another viable option, said Disability Rights Florida's Olivia Babis. She says paper straws pose a choking hazard and that plastic is the best option.
"So we definitely need to be still talking about this. And preemption is something that we usually use to protect vulnerable communities, this is very much a vulnerable community and we need access to this.”
Cities such as Hallandale and Deerfield Beach have straw restrictions that lawmakers like Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, say go too far.
Hutson is also proposing a moratorium on sunscreen, stopping cities from placing their own restrictions. It also penalizes any municipality that attempts to do so with a fine of $25,000.
“The question is, what does an attempt look like, and which of those entities within the local government would be able to take those actions that rise to the level of an attempt?” said the Florida Association of Counties' Laura Youmans. The Association opposed to the bill even as it passed the Senate's Community Affairs Committee Wednesday.
Meanwhile, another fight is brewing over vacation rentals and whether they are good for business or bad for neighborhoods.
“How can this happen to people who love their community? It’s very upsetting," Pinellas County resident Bonnie Sullivan said during a rally against government regulations at the Capitol. She singled out Airbnb, saying the rentals in her neighborhood of Indian Rocks has led to problems.
“It is the absentee commercial owners renting these unattended hotels with no idea what’s happening unless the police or neighbors call them and let them know."
Sullivan wants local control over these rentals. The legislature is considering giving that power to the state.