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DeSantis vetoes bill on control of beach, pool closures over water quality

WUSF, file

Gov. Ron DeSantis noted the priority of protecting the state’s natural resources, but added that granting power over Florida beaches to the Department of Health was "ill-advised.”

Citing concerns of superseding control of local authorities, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would have required the Department of Health to close beaches, waterways and swimming pools if needed because of poor water quality.

The bill (HB 165) would have required the agency to issue health advisories and close access when waters “fail to meet established standards” to “protect the health, safety and welfare of the public,” according to a House analysis of the measure.

The intent was to broaden the definition of public bathing places monitored for fecal indicator bacteria by the health department, require consistent notification and signage, and establish a statewide database.

In notifying the secretary of state of his veto, DeSantis expressed the importance of protecting the state’s natural resources, but added the “grant of power to DOH over Florida beaches is ill-advised.”

Health departments “can serve a valuable function, but they should not be vested with the power to supersede local jurisdictions regarding the operation of beaches,” he wrote.

I’m the online producer for Health News Florida, a collaboration of public radio stations and NPR that delivers news about health care issues.