TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – Legislation that would block local governments from banning sunscreens is speeding through the state Legislature.
The bill is opposed by environmental groups who hope the Governor will veto the legislation if it makes it to his desk.
Florida’s designation as the Sunshine State comes at a cost.
“Florida ranks second in the nation for the highest rate of new melanoma cases,” said State Senator Rob Bradley.
Senator Bradley is sponsoring the bill that would prevent local governments from banning sunscreens.
“Sunscreen is the first line of defense against skin cancer,” said Bradley.
It comes in response to a ban set to go into effect in Key West starting in 2021.
Environmental activists like Holly Parker Curry with the Surfrider Foundation argue studies have shown certain chemicals used in some sunscreens are harmful to coral reefs, a vital tourist attraction for the Keys.
“Why wouldn’t we allow a community to regulate that when their entire economy and way of life-based on the health of their coral reefs?” said Parker Curry.
But Senator Bradley called the studies ‘junk science’.
“Local governments should not be picking and choosing which types of sunscreens are available based on junk science,” said Bradley.
Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill last year that would have blocked local governments from banning plastic straws.
Environmental groups are optimistic he might do the same if this bill reaches his desk.
“Almost verbatim it would apply. If you don’t like it, then vote them out,” said Parker Curry.
But Bradley believes the Governor will see beyond the local control argument in this case.
“I think the Governor will agree with the purpose of this bill, which is to encourage Floridians and people who visit Florida to use sunscreen,” said Bradley.
The bill will be the first one heard by the full Senate when it meets this coming Wednesday.
The bill is also moving in the House.
It has two more committee stops before it will be ready for a floor vote.