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Ohio News

Opponents Urge Lawmakers To Toss Out Ban On Plastic Bag Bans

Three communities in Ohio have enacted bans on plastic bags.
Three communities in Ohio have enacted bans on plastic bags.

State senators considering one of two bills to ban local bans on plastic bags heard from around 40 opponents, who either came to a committee hearing or sent in written testimony.

There were local officials talking home rule, including Ben Kessler, the mayor of Bexley, one of three communities that has enacted a ban on plastic bags.

"That’s something that local jurisdictions should determine until such a time that the state of Ohio weighs in on an overarching basis about a similar regulation," Kessler said.

And there were those with environmental and public health concerns.

Alan Rosenfield, an energy specialist with the League of Women Voters, cited stats from the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio and other sources, saying that Ohio has a serious plastic waste disposal problem.

“The problem will not go away. If the state has no solution things will only get worse," Rosenfield said.

Republicans, including sponsor Sen. Michael Rulli (R-Salem), whose family owns grocery stores, say they’re concerned about a patchwork of plastic bag regulation and the long-term costs of paper and cloth bags.

But Trent Dougherty of the Ohio Environmental Council said the bill violates home rule and doesn’t put forward a solution.

“Instead of opening the door to that dialogue on how we treat plastic pollution, Senate Bill 222 slams the doors on local governments’ rights to protect their residents from the environmental and fiscal costs of plastic pollution," Dougherty said.

A similar ban on plastic bag bans passed a House committee mostly along party lines this summer, but hasn't had a hearing in the Senate yet. Rep. George Lang (R-West Chester), the sponsor of that bill, has said banning bans will stop the flow of people who have moved out of Ohio.

“The data is so empirical that we are getting our asses kicked by other pro-business friendly states. We’re the fifth most 'left' state in the nation," Lang said in May.

**This story has been updated to reflect that the House bill passed a House committee this summer, and is pending a vote in the full House.

Copyright 2019 The Statehouse News Bureau