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Shawn Williams, Democratic Candidate FL HD 78 speaks out on environmental legislation


For Immediate Release:
Contact: Janelle Christensen
Organization: Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida
Big Government Legislators Blocking Local Environmental Rule

The Southwest Florida delegation to the State Legislature voted consistently against the interests of local communities during the 2019 session, approving bills that would limit local control over issues ranging from the environment to housing.

Perhaps the most widely publicized--and lampooned--legislation was the bill that would prevent local communities from banning the use of plastic straws, which are hugely damaging to the environment and marine life. Fortunately, Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed this ridiculous piece of legislation, but not before Southwest Florida legislators voted in lockstep against the interests of their constituents.

The laughable plastic straw bill was not the only piece of bad law approved by the legislature and, unfortunately, others bills made it through including legislation to limit local communities’ ability to require developers take into account the need for affordable housing, which is a crisis in Southwest Florida.

Rep. Ray Rodrigues (R-76), directly voted against his constituents interests by supporting this “big government” legislation, HB 711. His district includes Sanibel, Captiva and Fort Myers Beach, all of which had bans on plastic straws (see image below).

Reps. Dane Eagle (R-77), Heather Fitzenhagen (R-78), Spencer Roach (R-79), Byron Donalds (R-80), and Ana Rodriguez (R-105) all voted for this legislation.
Another example of “big government” legislation is HB 7103, which blocks local governments from requiring low-income housing in development. Though damaging to the environment, development is a critical part of solving the affordable housing crisis. Currently, development (and associated environmental damage) is happening but it is not helping the housing crisis.

Lee County and Collier County both have an affordable housing crisis. Shawn Williams, a member of the Lee County Affordable Housing Advisory Committee since 2018 says, “The Florida Legislature has raided $125 million of Sadowski Trust Funds and put them into the general fund. These funds would have provided at least 1,800 healthcare workers, teachers, firefighters, police officers and their families quality, affordable housing options.”
Williams, who is now running for Florida House District 78, explains, “In the past eleven years, the Florida Legislature has taken more than $1.5 billion from the fund according to Florida TaxWatch, representing 24,000 affordable housing units. It has to stop.”

When asked about HB 7013 environmental impacts, Williams explains, “the bill quashes dissent from environmental groups. If they raise concerns and lose in court, environmental groups will have to pay legal fees. What started as an affordable housing bill, ended up an array of poor public policies that negatively affect affordable housing, the environment and Florida communities.” Meanwhile, students and people working in the hospitality industries struggle to afford rent in Lee County.

Florida House District, Name, Vote on Fl House 711: Environmental Legislation- Preempting Plastic Straws and other Ordinances
76 Rodrigues, Ray Yea
77 Eagle, Dane Yea
78 Fitzenhagen, Heather Yea
79 Roach, Spencer Yea
80 Donalds, Byron Yea
105 Rodriguez, Ana Yea

Florida House District, Name, Vote HB 7103: Preempting Affordable Housing Ordinances & Penalizing Environmental Groups
76 Rodrigues, Ray Absent
77 Eagle, Dane Yea
78 Fitzenhagen, Heather Yea
79 Roach, Spencer Yea
80 Donalds, Byron Yea
105 Rodriguez, Ana Yea

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