Republicans in the Ohio Statehouse are once again attempting to prevent local communities from regulating auxiliary containers like plastic bags with new legislation in defiance of home rule. (Home rule is the idea, enshrined in the state constitution, that Ohio cities can pass their own laws).
Reps. George Lang of Butler County and Don Jones of Warren County have introduced House Bill 242, a revamp of last year's House Bill 625. The bill seeks to pre-empt taxation and regulation of auxiliary containers.
It is an "over-reaching bill based on lobbyist funding and passed by an uneducated state legislature," in the words of
Orange Village Council President Brandon Duber. Orange was the first community in Ohio to enact a plastic bag ban last year. The new bill, if passed, would invalidate the ban.
County Councilwoman Sunny Simon, who has been leading the charge locally for plastic bag regulation, told cleveland.com
that she wasn't surprised the statehouse was "bought and paid for by the plastic and chemical industries with no consideration to the long-term damage and impact to the environment."
The state bill was likely resuscitated because Cuyahoga County is planning to establish a ban. After Simon and her co-sponsors failed to rally support for a fee on plastic bags last year, they have managed to enlist allies in support of a ban, based largely on environmental concerns. Council was expected to vote on the ban at their next meeting on May 28.
Speaking on behalf of the plastic bag industry, "Representative" George Lang told Scene
last year that HB625 was "primarily aimed to help business." In fact, it was "all about" reducing the cost and complexity of regulations for businesses. (Lang's district is home to a plastic bag manufacturer.)
Cleveland.com reported that in a memo sent earlier this month, Lang wrote to his colleagues that the legislation was supported by the Ohio Beverage Association, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and "other politically influential business groups."
The memo echoes Lang's comments to Scene:
“When everyday products like paper cups, grocery bags, to-go containers and soft-drink bottles are taxed and regulated inconsistently within a state, it creates costly problems for manufacturers, businesses and working families. Adopting statewide uniformity for auxiliary containers is a way to protect against overregulation, support manufacturing jobs and uphold consumer freedom.”
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