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Calley approves ban on local plastic bag ordinances

Plastic bag caught in a tree.
Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
Some local governments have considered fees or bans on plastic grocery bags. The new law will prohibit those ordinances.

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley is signing bills into law while Governor Rick Snyder is out of the state for the winter holidays. One of the laws he signed preempts local ordinances that ban or restrict plastic bags used by retailers.

Business groups say a patchwork of local rules on plastic bags would place a burden on retailers.

But local government officials say it should be up to them to decide how to handle litter and other problems with the common use of plastic bags. 

“So, if it’s important to a community to look at plastic bags or containers and how that’s affecting their community they kind of have their hands tied now and aren’t able to do anything about it,” said  Jennifer Rigterink of the Michigan Municipal League, which opposed the bill.

Rigterink says a few Michigan communities were considering plastic bag ordinances. But, only Washtenaw County went so far as to adopt a law that imposed a plastic bag fee.

Washtenaw County Commissioner Jennifer Eyer says the law is a swipe at local control. Eyer says she’s disappointed.

“Because they’ve put the priorities of business over the concerns about the environment, and doing what’s good for the environment,” she said.

Eyer says plastic bags are littering parks and nature areas, and they also cost taxpayers’ money because they jam machines that process trash.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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