Photo by Gabriel Gurrola on Unsplash

The Gainesville City Commission may soon not have the power to ban plastic straws.

The Florida Senate Commerce and Tourism committee approved a bill last Monday that places a five-year hold on the ability of local governments to ban plastic straws and would set up a study to look at the environmental impact of straws.

After the bill was approved by the Commerce and Tourism Committee, it was moved to the Community Affairs Committee Thursday.

A similar bill was introduced in the Florida House of Representatives Tuesday that includes removing the power of local governments to ban plastic straws. The bill was referred to three House committees Friday.

Proposed by Sen. Travis Hutson, of Volusia County, the bill was originally designed to mandate that businesses giving out paper straws are required to have a plastic straw option, but he told the Florida Senate Commerce and Tourism committee Monday it was still too much government control.

“I’m just not a fan of government, at the state or local level, telling a business what to do,” Hutson said at the meeting.

As part of Gainesville’s goal to be waste free by 2040, the city commission began discussing an ordinance that would make straws available by request and then eventually ban them completely.

Gainesville Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos said if the Senate bill passed, it will put a hold on Gainesville’s progress, but he wants to keep moving forward with the ban.

“The state Legislature is continuing their attacks on home rule,” Hayes-Santos said.

The commission voted unanimously Thursday to direct their lobbyists to oppose the ban.

Holly Parker Curry, with the Surfrider Foundation, an environmental non-profit, spoke in opposition of the bill at the committee meeting. She said studies have already been done.

“If you stop and clean a beach for five minutes, you’ll leave with a fistful of straws,” Curry said. “We don’t need a study, we need action.”

Karina is the city commission reporter and a second-year journalism major with a passion for storytelling and graphic design.