Mayor Gail Coniglio has started a Change.org petition, in which she asks residents to support Senate Bill 182, which would allow Palm Beach to enact legislation banning plastic bags and polystyrene containers on the island.
The Town of Palm Beach refuses to accept defeat in its efforts to ban the use of plastic bags and polystyrene containers on the island.
Mayor Gail Coniglio has started a Change.org petition that is linked on the town’s website, asking residents to support Senate Bill 182 and any companion House bills, which would allow local governments to enact legislation. In this case, the right to ban plastic bags and polystyrene containers.
The petition also asks residents to send an email to Gov. Ron DeSantis in support of Senate Bill 182. As of about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, 1,520 people had signed the petition.
"Single-use plastics and Styrofoam are relatively new products of convenience and are not critical consumer goods. There are less-harmful alternatives, and we need to legislate this switch away from harmful fossil fuel-based disposable goods to keep the economic impact equitable across businesses statewide," the petition said.
Coniglio and council members have criticized the legislature for steadily eroding "home rule," which is the ability of local governments to adopt regulations that fit their needs and circumstances.
In October, the Town Council adopted a resolution to strongly encourage the legislature to "approve Senate Bill 182 and any companion House Bills relating to the pre-emption of single-use plastic bags."
In June, Town Council unanimously voted to ban throughout the city. But the ban did not last long. In July, the town received a letter from the Florida Retail Federation, warning that if council moved forward with the plastic ban, it would sue the town.
The federation cited a 2008 law in the letter known as state pre-emption, that prevents local governments from regulating recyclable materials, including "auxiliary containers, wrappings or disposable plastic bags."
The town did not want to risk losing a lawsuit, and in August the council voted unanimously to put an end to the ban prohibiting the use of plastic bags and polystyrene containers.
The town had more success in banning plastic straws from island eateries and restaurants. DeSantis vetoed a pre-emption on straws in May, stating in his veto letter that Florida "should simply allow local communities to address this issue through the political process."
Other Florida cities also have moved ahead in prohibiting retailers from using plastic bags and polystyrene. The city of Coral Gables banned the retail use of expanded polystyrene (plastic foam) in February 2016. In July 2016, the retail federation filed a lawsuit against the city, and the Eleventh Circuit Court upheld the city's polystyrene ban in February 2017.
Coniglio told the Daily News that she had received emails from people living in other cities such as Greenwich, Conn., asking why Palm Beach was being so slow in banning plastic.
"This petition has a wide level of support from residents," Coniglio said. "We have to start being pro-active personally and start doing what we can to decrease the use of plastic bags."
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For more information on the petition, visit www.change.org/p/ron-desantis-allow-florida-cities-to-pass-laws-that-ban-single-use-plastic-bags
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