DeSantis signs law banning sunscreen bans

Gov. Ron DeSantis late Monday signed 28 bills into law, including a controversial measure that will prevent local governments from imposing bans on certain types of sunscreen.

The sunscreen bill (SB 172), spearheaded by Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, stems from a plan by Key West to enforce a ban on the sale of sunscreens that contain the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. Key West pointed to concerns that the chemicals could damage coral reefs.

But Bradley, R-Fleming Island, and other critics of the plan said sunscreen helps prevent skin cancer and disputed that the chemicals damage coral reefs.

“Unfortunately, with all of the wonderful things that come with our beaches and our sunshine, we also rank second in the nation for the highest rate of new melanoma cases,” Bradley said during a committee discussion of the bill in November.

In addition to sunscreen, the bill also preempts local governments from regulating other types of over-the-counter cosmetics and drugs. Opponents criticized the bill as an attack on local home-rule authority, while also raising concerns about coral reefs.

During this year’s legislative session, Rep. Javier Fernandez, D-South Miami, described the bill as a “gross overreaction to what has been a measured and reasonable limitation passed by the city of Key West.”

DeSantis did not issue statements as his office Monday night released the list of 28 newly signed bills. The governor has gradually signed bills this month from the legislative session that ended in March, including signing a $92.2 billion state budget earlier Monday.

Among the other bills signed Monday was a measure (HB 59) that will allow pharmacies to use automated systems to dispense prescription drugs. House sponsor Matt Willhite, D-Wellington, issued a statement Monday night that said the bill could help patients have access to certain prescriptions.

“With the passage of this bill, we hope to expand an individual’s access to their prescription medication,” Willhite said. “These machines will only dispense generic medications. Nonetheless, this technology will make it easier for busy parents and people living in rural communities to safely access the medications that they need.”

Among the other bills signed Monday by DeSantis:

--- SB 72, which makes a wide range of changes in the higher-education system.

--- HB 763, which requires hospitals to conduct “patient safety culture surveys” and submit the results to the state.

--- HB 1061, which creates the Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve in coastal waters off Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties.

--- HB 1095, which includes placing term limits on the state public counsel, who represents consumers in utility cases.

--- HB 1105, which makes a series of changes in the child-welfare system.