The Florida Legislature will have quite the workload when its 60-day session begins on Tuesday. Goals will include passing a budget expected to top $90 billion dollars; lowering the cost of health care; preventing blue-green algae; and increasing teacher pay.
Our state’s lawmakers will also consider measures that include banning iguana breeding, protecting nude sunbathers, banning sunscreen bans, giving hunters a sales tax break on guns and ammo, and making shelter animals the official state pet.
The full Senate will take up a bill that would prohibit local governments from banning sunscreens, while a House committee considers their version of the bill. That piece of legislation is a reaction to Key West recently banning the sale of sunscreens that contain oxybenzone or octinoxate, which some researchers say could harm coral reefs.
Republican Senator Rob Bradley, who is sponsoring the bill, says the research has not been proven and that residents and tourists in the Sunshine State should use sunscreen.
He adds, “That science is lacking in rigor. What science is clear and indisputable about is the case around using sunscreen to protect against skin cancer.”
Conversely, environmentalists say other sunscreens are available that do not contain the chemicals in question, and that places like Key West should be able to do whatever is necessary to protect the reefs that drive tourism.
Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Jason Pizzo plans to introduce a bill that would exempt people on clothing-optional beaches from being punished under a current law that prohibits people from publicly exposing their genitals.
Another Senate committee will look Democratic Senator Gary Farmer’s proposed legislation, which calls for a ban on possessing, importing, selling, bartering, trading or breeding green iguanas or black and white tegus.
While the Senate considers placing new restrictions on gun sales, Republican Senator Debbie Mayfield will ask for a one-day tax holiday for hunting and fishing. It is intended to exempt sales tax on rifles, shotguns, ammunition, crossbows, spearguns, hunting tents and fishing equipment.
A House committee will debate a bill that could result in the creation of the Statewide Office of Resiliency and the Statewide Sea-Level Rise Task Force.
Governor Ron DeSantis believes that sea level rise is a problem the state needs to address.
If the bill ultimately becomes law, the Department of Environmental Protection would then be required to act on any recommendations the Sea-Level Rise Task Force makes.