Friday, February 09, 2024

Lawmakers move to ban release of balloons, but bill limiting regulation of plastics is in jeopardy. (Florida Phoenix)

In 2022, St. Johns County reportedly became the first Florida county to ban balloon releases and sky lanterns. Thanks to Ms. Nicole Crosby and other wildlife protection advocates for their years of persistence on balloons. Starting with local government ordinances, it's all about ending horrible painful Florida wildlife deaths caused by our industrial society's willful, heedless, promiscuous use of balloons, which fall to earth, devoured by pelagic and terrestrial wildlife.  

We, the People, will preserve, protect and defend our Florida environment and our wildlife. "Patience and time."  -- General Mikhail Kutuzov, in Tolstoy's War and Peace.  From Florida Phoenix: 

Lawmakers move to ban release of balloons, but bill limiting regulation of plastics is in jeopardy

Environmental advocates are pleased with the developments

BY:  - FEBRUARY 8, 2024 12:15 PM

 Municipalities in Florida that want to ban single-use shopping bags run into opposition at the state level. Marharyto Marko/Getty Images

Environmental advocates on Thursday say they’re optimistic about legislation that relates to removing litter from our waterways and oceans, including balloons.

First, a House committee approved a proposal (HB 321) that would ban the intentional release of balloons.

Balloons pose a serious danger to wildlife, including marine mammals, seabirds and sea turtles, according to the Ocean Conservation Society. They can be mistaken for food by several marine species, and animals can die from starvation when balloons block their digestive tracts, or when they became entangled in balloon strings.

“There’s no good reason to release a balloon,” Pinellas County Republican Linda Chaney said in introducing her bill. “The release of a balloon is harmful to our environment and harmful to our sea life, and even to our livestock. We have all seen pictures of turtles dying and choking on balloons. Florida is the number one nesting location for the leatherback turtle, and a top nesting area for other endangered species.”

The proposal received backing on Thursday from the Coalition for Responsible Celebration, who represents balloon manufacturers, florists, grocers and ‘mom and pop’ shops. “It’s possible to enjoy balloons while also protecting the environment,” executive director Maria Stockham told the committee on Thursday.

Violators who intentionally release a balloon are subject to a $150 fine.

Chaney’s bill will now move to the House floor for a final vote. It’s Senate version (SB 602) has also passed unanimously through two committees so far, with one final stop before it reaches the floor of the Senate.

“With today’s vote, the Florida Legislature has taken a massive step forward towards addressing one of the deadliest forms of plastic pollution for our ocean wildlife: balloons and their attachments,” said Hunter Miller, the field campaigns manager for the Southeast for Oceana. “We stand with the diverse coalition of lawmakers and organizations enthusiastically supporting this bill and are hopeful to see it become law.”

In a second piece of legislation, environmentalists are also optimistic about the diminishing prospects of a bill (SB 1126) that would ban local governments from imposing regulations against single-use plastic items like bags, bottles, cups and cardboard was temporarily postponed.

The measure had passed in one Senate committee but was postponed on Tuesday in the Senate Community Affairs — which is not scheduled to meet again this session.

“Even if it were to be heard, I would expect that there would not be the votes to support it,” says Emma Haydocy, the Florida policy manager for the Surfrider Foundation.

“There was such an outpouring from groups like Surfrider who oppose it because we care about our beaches and our waterways not being clogged with plastic,” she said, adding, “it just seems like there were enough folks on that committee who care about those individual waterways who did not want to see this legislation move forward and were going to vote no.”

As the Phoenix reported last month, Florida is one of at least 19 states that have placed limitations on regulating plastic carryout bags. Thirteen other states have gone the complete opposite way, and now ban the use of plastic carryout bags statewide, according to the Retail Industry Leaders Association. Advocates say the passage of a ban on so-called “auxiliary containers” would only have put Florida further behind.

“Oceana and many of our partners across the state were relieved to see SB 1126 pulled from the Senate Community Affairs committee agenda,” Miller says. “Our concern was that this bill would likely mean more trash and plastic pollution ending up in our waterways and oceans. The state has already taken most of the tools out of the toolbox for local governments to address plastic pollution and this bill would further restrict communities from implementing sensible ordinances to protect their neighborhoods, beaches, parks and wildlife. We need real leadership on this issue, not efforts to thwart communities to be a part of the solution.”

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Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.


John said...

They might go against environmental things just because "that's leftist" or "because we don't want to be like California." Some right wing political bullshit similar to what they try to pull with abortion when the vast majority of people don't want total abortion bans. Republicans are dick heads.

Anonymous said...

Culture wars and environmental bullshit ok. What about the economy? 1950-70 the dumbest son of a bitch on the planet could get a good job making descent money and pay off a house in no time. Really no education needed to achieve that. Now you're lucky if you can even afford housing with a good job! Got problems? You're fucked!

Anonymous said...

Florida bill would eliminate all property taxes. The anti tax, anti-government extremists having a heyday. Next up, you pay for K-12.