Gov. DeWine opposes state barring local bans on plastic bags

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine wants state lawmakers to drop bills that would prohibit local governments from forbidding the use of plastic bags.

DeWine opposes a pair of bills offered by fellow Republicans that would forbid municipalities and counties from banning single-use plastic bags by groceries and other stores.

Some local governments, including Cuyahoga County and the Columbus suburb of Bexley, are trying to regulate the use of plastic bags in an effort to reduce litter and plastic waste in landfills.

Some lawmakers and business groups say the local bans make it harder for grocers and other businesses to operate.

DeWine said Wednesday it would be a mistake for state lawmakers to override local government decisions.

State government should allow allow local communities to do “what they think is best,” the governor said. (AP)

EARLIER STORY: Ohio lawmakers, grocers and business groups are looking to block local governments from regulating the use of plastic grocery bags and other carryout containers.

Senate Bill 222 and House Bill 242 each would pre-empt local regulations such as fees or bans on the containers.

The fight over the bills pits business groups against environmental advocates and local government organizations. The bills are backed by the Ohio Grocers Association, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, NFIB Ohio and others. Opponents include the Sierra Club - Ohio, Ohio Township Association, and Ohio Municipal League.

Local bans on many single-use plastic bags are scheduled to take effect in January in Cuyahoga County and the city of Bexley.

Proponents of the bills say they want to head off a patchwork of local regulations that chain stores and other businesses would have to follow. They also argue that bans or fees would drive up their business costs.

Opponents argue that the bills usurp local Home Rule authority and tie the hands of local efforts to address the plastic pollution problem.

Senate Bill 222 is sponsored by state Sen. Michael Rulli, R-Salem, who is chief of operations for Rulli Brothers Markets. House Bill 242, which cleared a committee vote in June and is awaiting a floor vote, is sponsored by state Reps. George Lang, R-West Chester and Don Jones, R-Freeport.

Related: Ohio House passes bill blocking cities from imposing plastic bag fees

A similar bill cleared the Ohio House in November 2018 but did not receive approval from the Senate.

Eight state have statewide bans on single-use plastic bags and several large cities such as Boston, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. have imposed bans or fees, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Meanwhile 14 states have enacted pre-emption laws, similar to what Ohio is considering, NCSL reported earlier this month.

The American Legislative Exchange Council proposed a model plastic bag ban pre-emption policy in 2015. ALEC is an organization of conservative state legislators and corporate interests.

Cincinnati-based Kroger announced in 2018 its plans to phase out single-use plastic bags in its stores by 2025.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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