Mich. Senate OKs ban on regulation of plastic bags

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — The Michigan Senate has voted to prohibit local governments from regulating the sale of plastic bags and food containers.

The Republican-controlled chamber approved the bill Tuesday in a 25-12 vote that was mostly along party lines. It is an effort by businesses to stop local governments from banning the bags or adding fees to use them.

Some Michigan communities have discussed the regulation of plastic bags for fear they don’t disintegrate quickly in landfills, but no ordinances yet have been passed.

“I think that a fair and consistent law that affects both sides of the street continues to be a better policy than breaking it up between thousands of governmental entities,” said sponsoring Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, who added the legislation would ensure a consistent regulatory environment for businesses across the state.

Democrats bemoaned the bill as an attack on local control.

“We don’t need a one-size-fits-all state solution to every problem facing local governments,” said Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., D-Meridian Township. “We need to let our communities and democracy work. If people decide to have their own rules when it comes to plastic bags, we should not have a statewide ban.”

Washtenaw County is considering a plan to impose a 10-cent fee on plastic bags to discourage their use, arguing the bags are wasteful, hurt the environment and cause damage in recycling facilities.

“Give communities like mine a chance to actually find a solution and to prove to people in this chamber who think that businesses and local governments can’t come together to find something that works a reason to believe that in fact (they) can,” said Sen. Rebecca Warren, D-Ann Arbor.

But the Associated Food and Petroleum Dealers, a group of gas station and mini-mart owners, welcomed the legislation.

“This is a win for retailers, consumers and the environment,” Dan Papineau, director of government affairs for Associated Food and Petroleum Dealers, said in a statement.

“The claim that the use of plastic bags are bad for the environment is not only incredibly short-sighted but blatantly wrong. Arguably even more alarming is the ostensible adoption of a fee or tax on the use of certain bags in conjunction with the ban, which is bad for consumers and bad for retailers.”

The bill next goes to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.


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The Associated Press contributed.