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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Ohio House Passes Bill Forbidding Municipalities From Banning Plastic Bags

Posted By on Thu, Dec 12, 2019 at 11:59 AM

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Municipalities in Ohio would be prohibited from banning plastic bags under a proposed law the Ohio House of Representatives passed yesterday.

Supporters of the legislation — mostly Republican lawmakers and business groups like the Ohio Chamber of Commerce — say it will keep business owners from having to navigate a "patchwork" of regulations and fees around bags and other so-called "auxiliary containers" like disposable cups and straws.

Opponents, including a number of House Democrats, say the bill would violate home rule provisions in Ohio law that allow municipalities to set their own regulations. Some Democrats also pointed out that disposable bags, cups and containers contribute to the millions of pounds of trash that pollute the Great Lakes and fill local landfills.

Back in May, West Chester State Rep. George Lang, the bill's co-sponsor, told the Statehouse News Bureau that the proposed law was about "just stopping the ability to tax" establishments that don't observe plastic bag bans. Lang claimed that blocking the bans would keep residents from moving out of Ohio.

The House passed similar legislation last year, also sponsored by Lang, but the Senate failed to move it forward.

"Reducing and preventing the tax burden in our state makes Ohio a more attractive destination for businesses looking to relocate or expand,” Lang said after the passage of last year's legislation.

Cuyahoga County passed a bag ban that month involving fees for retailers who supply plastic bags, and a handful of other Ohio municipalities have passed similar regulations.

Next the Ohio Senate will consider its version of the bill again. Should it pass this time, it could face opposition from Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, who said earlier this month that the law would be "a serious mistake."

Some grocers are making the move to end plastic bag usage on their own. Cincinnati-based Kroger announced last year that it would phase out plastic bags in its stores by 2025.

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