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St. Lucie NAACP calls state law banning local heat protections 'discriminatory'

'You don't want them passing out so I don't even know why they’re discussing this,' agreed Port St. Lucie contractor Anthony Gizze
Posted at 5:58 PM, Apr 17, 2024

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — More opposition is mounting across South Florida over the state's recent legislation to ban heat protections at a local level.

WPTV reported on Tuesday that House Bill 433 blocks local governments from several activities, including setting heat exposure requirements that aren't already required under state or federal law.

Since then, the NAACP of St. Lucie County issued a statement to WPTV calling the legislation "discriminatory" against the workers it affects.

"It is inhumane to have anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status and citizenship, work anywhere in Florida and not require the heat and water breaks," the organization's Aisha Nash said in a statement to WPTV.

Port St. Lucie contractor Anthony Gizze said he thinks it's a bad idea, too.

"My own brother has passed out on a job site. It was hot. He was overworked," Gizze said.

Anthony Gizze of Gizze Construction mandates certain water and heat breaks for his employees. April 17, 2024
Anthony Gizze of Gizze Construction mandates certain water and heat breaks for his employees.

Gizze mandates certain water and heat breaks for his employees and knows the blazing boil of the summer sun. He was shocked to hear Tallahassee passed a bill banning local governments from enacting heat protections for workers.

"You’ve got to know what to expect. It is dangerous out there," Gizze said. "You don't want them passing out, so I don't even know why they’re discussing this."

Florida doesn't have any statewide standard for heat protection, so counties and cities would defer to federal guidelines, regulated by Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Republican Rep. Rick Roth of District 45 told WPTV's Chris Gilmore on Tuesday the bill aims to draw more businesses into Florida.

State Rep. Rick Roth, R-District 94, says seeing municipalities like Miami-Dade trying to put working condition restrictions in place is frustrating. April 16, 2024
State Rep. Rick Roth, R-District 94, says seeing municipalities like Miami-Dade trying to put working condition restrictions in place is frustrating.

"I can definitely see why that would be beneficial for investors, but I think they should take a closer at Florida and see that this state is a lot different from other states," Gizze said.

In 2023, WPTV's First Alert Weather Team said 25 out of July's 31 days were under a heat advisory, meaning the heat index hit 108 degrees or more for at least two hours.

In 2021, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show at least 30 people died from heat-related illness in the state, the eighth highest amount in the country.

Heat-related deaths in U.S. in 2021
Heat-related deaths in U.S. in 2021

"I personally passed out last summer because of heat exhaustion," St. Lucie County's Director of Communications Erick Gill said.

St. Lucie County's Director of Communications Erick Gill says the county doesn't have any specific ordinances dealing with heat exhaustion. April 17, 2024
St. Lucie County's Director of Communications Erick Gill says the county doesn't have any specific ordinances dealing with heat exhaustion.

Gill said the county doesn't have any specific ordinances dealing with heat exhaustion, and neither do Indian River nor Martin Counties.

Since St. Lucie County, just like the private sector, already follows OSHA guidelines, Gil doesn't foresee the legislation causing any issues.

"Yeah, in fact our HR department recently sent a memo out to all directors reminding them that we can purchase electrolytes. You know, fluids that go beyond just water out the field," Gill said.

Indian River County also didn't expect to be affected by the legislation.

Yet Gizze told WPTV he wondered if one sweeping standard was the right way to go.

"I think each area should monitor themselves and see what they need that’s best for their community," Gizze said