Thursday, April 9, 2020

Please call Governor DeSantis and ask him to veto Senate Bill 172!

Senate Bill 172, through state preemption, bans local regulation of over-the-counter drugs and cosmetics- a direct attack on the City of Key West’s coral reef protection ordinance which bans the sale of sunscreen containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, effective January 1, 2021. This is despite the fact that there is a widely accepted body of science which shows these two chemicals damage the health and reproduction of coral reefs, making them more vulnerable to bleaching, disease, and death.

Last session Governor DeSantis stood up for home rule and defended the authority of local governments when no compelling state interest exists. Once again the state legislature has overreached to pass a statewide preemption in response to a single local ordinance that is well grounded in science and local support.

Please call Governor DeSantis at (850) 488-7146 and ask him to veto SB 172 to protect home rule and the imperiled Florida Reef!

On January 30th, Governor DeSantis unveiled Florida’s Coral Reef, a new awareness campaign and website created by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and twenty-five partner organizations, including NOAA, Florida State Parks, the Coral Restoration Foundation, and others. The website urges the public to “Check sunscreen active ingredients. Some chemicals commonly found in popular sunscreens have been shown to negatively impact marine life.”

Additionally, NOAA and the National Park Service urge consumers to avoid these chemicals; and bans are already in place in Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Bonaire, and Palau.  

Coral reefs in southeast Florida have an asset value of $8.5 billion, generating $4.4 billion in local sales, $2 billion in local income, and 70,400 full and part-time jobs. These also are imperiled. Florida and the federal government currently are spending millions of taxpayer dollars to try and restore the Florida Reef.

If safe alternatives to these chemical sunscreens are affordable, effective, and widely available, why would the legislature pass such a bill?  It’s simple. Supporters of the bill include Associated Industries for Florida (AIF), The Florida Chamber of Commerce, and the Florida Retail Federation (FRF). These organizations repeatedly seek to use preemption strategy to curb progressive legislation at the local level (think plastics, minimum wage, vacation rentals, occupational licensing, etc.). They heap hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations to the sponsors of these bills through various PACS. Make no mistake; this bill is not, as the sponsors claim, about protecting people from skin cancer.

Call Governor DeSantis at (850) 488-7146 and ask him to not capitulate to industry and to protect the Florida Reef by vetoing SB 172!