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Florida legislative session begins: bills that affect Southwest Florida

Posted at 9:20 AM, Mar 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-05 09:20:46-05

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Florida lawmakers meet for the first legislative session of 2019 Tuesday. Among nearly 3,000 bills that have been filed are some that if passed, would affect Southwest Florida.

Lawmakers say SB 502, which would ban plastic bags and straws statewide, could reduce some of the waste polluting Florida waters.

The bill would ban stores and food service businesses from selling and supplying plastic bags and straws. Those food service businesses include restaurants, cafes, food trucks and movie theaters.

If passed, that bill could go into effect as soon as July 1, 2019.

Kevin Walsh visited Fort Myers Beach this morning and said the ban on plastic bags is a good idea. He said plastic bags on the beach is a problem he sees all too often.

“Back in the day paper bags was the common, the norm. Sometimes a little sacrifice makes a big impact and this is just one example,” he said. “Any time you walk on the beach at any given day, you’ll find plastic bags, wrappers, containers, styrofoam...things of that nature. It doesn’t degrade. It’s not biodegradable.”

Another bill that would affect hotels across the state is the bill to stop human trafficking at hotels. It's sponsored by Fort Myers Representative Heather Fitzenhagen. That bill would require hotel workers to identify and possibly prevent sex trafficking at their businesses.

If passed, it would go into effect at the beginning of next year.

There's also a bill that would allow homeowners to file insurance claims after a hurricane.

Despite the thousands of bills that have been filed, most of them will be killed before they make it to the governor's desk. The legislature is only required to pass a budget by the end of this session.