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Cities Oppose State Bill That Would Stop Them Curbing Use Of Plastic Bags

George Widman
A customer totes a shopping bag outside an Ikea in Conshohocken, PA., on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2017.

At least four Pennsylvania cities are urging state Senators to reject a bill that would prevent municipalities from banning plastic shopping bags or imposing fees to curb their use.

Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, York and Erie say that single-use plastic shopping bags are environmentally damaging, and increase waste-disposal costs for cities around the Commonwealth. They also argue that the bill, HB1071, would infringe on cities’ rights to run their own affairs.

The cities, and several associations representing them, called on members of the state House of Representatives to reject the bill but that effort failed on April 25 when the House approved it by a vote of 102-82, and the measure now goes to the Senate for consideration.

The bill “prohibits political subdivisions from imposing a ban, fee, surcharge or tax on plastic bags at point of sale” but does not prevent retailers from taking their own measures to cut bag use.

It was supported by most Republicans and opposed by most Democrats but was co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Hanna, the House Democratic whip, who is trying to protect jobs at Novolex, a plastic bag manufacturer in his Centre County district.

“It’s very important to us that we pass this legislation to make sure we that we’re maintaining jobs in our area,” said Samantha Lockhart, a spokeswoman for Hanna. “By taxing plastic bags, that would eliminate hundreds of jobs in our area. Our focus is on jobs and family-sustaining careers – that was our goal for this legislation.”

Read the rest of this report and others at the site of our partner, State Impact.