These 2024 bills are critical to protecting our water and our beaches — Surfrider Florida strongly supports their passage and ratification.
Bill Sponsors: Representative Linda Chaney (R - St. Pete Beach), Senator Nick DiCeglie (R - St. Petersburg)
HB321/SB602 (aka Release of Balloons) would revise the state's intentional balloon release law and remove a provision that allows individuals to release up to ten helium-filled balloons per day, and classifies intentionally released balloons as litter, subject to the same fines and penalties as any other commonly littered item.
Bill Sponsors: Representative Brad Yeager (R - New Port Richey), Senator Jonathan Martin (R - Ft. Myers)
HB1641/SB1126(aka Regulation of Auxiliary Containers) would revise the state's existing preemption on the regulation of plastic auxiliary containers, to preempt the regulation of all reusable and single-use cups, bottles, bags, and other wrappings to the state. The bill would also remove the DEP's Retail Bag Study.
This bill would make it impossible for local governments and municipalities to address the root causes of plastic pollution and waste issues and is in complete opposition to the will of the majority of Floridians who have indicated they would like to see more regulation of plastics and easily littered items, not for that regulation to be preempted to the state.
Bill Sponsor: Representative Peggy Gossett-Seidman (R - Highland Beach), Senator Lori Berman (D - Boynton Beach)
HB165/SB338 (aka Safe Waterways Act) is a game changing bill to address deficiencies in Florida's program for the bacteriological sampling of beach waters. The legislation would begin the process of transferring the Florida Healthy Beaches Program from the Department of Health to the Department of Environmental Protection, requires prompt and consistent public notification when water quality conditions are exceed human health standards, and establishes an interagency database for fecal bacteria.
The bill has been referenced to committees, but has not yet been placed on an agenda for the 2024 legislative session.
Bill Sponsor: Senator Ileana Garcia (R - Miami), Representative Jim Mooney (R - Islamorada)
Bill SB32 / HB1581 (aka Mangrove Replanting and Restoration) would significantly incentivize the use of mangroves for flood mitigation and coastal restoration, directs the Department of Environmental Protection to create stronger rules for mangrove replanting and restoration, and mandates a study to determine the value of mangroves for coastal flood risk protection.
SB32 passed unanimously through its first committee with a friendly amendment. It now heads to the Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, the Environment and General Government for its next stop for the Florida 2024 legislative session.