Should Local Governments Be Allowed To Ban Plastic Bags?

Date: April 21, 2016

BACKGROUND: Some cities and local governments
in Michigan are considering the passage of a local ordinance that would ban or
regulate plastic bags, cups or other disposable packaging and containers within
their jurisdiction. Proposed ordinances would ban stores from giving plastic
bags to customers and/or impose a fee for each plastic or paper bag they
distribute. In response, state legislation has been introduced that would
prohibit local governments from passing these kinds of laws.

Opponents of local ordinances to regulate the
use of paper, plastic or other disposable bags or containers say that this is
just another example of political activists looking
for local governments to take on issues that should be left to the state and
the federal government. They argue that placing these requirements on citizens
and businesses in the local area just encourages job providers to locate
elsewhere or move out of the area when they have the opportunity. Opponents
believe this fee and regulation scheme is just another way for local
governments to tax residents and businesses and provide government jobs for
those who would enforce the ordinance.

Supporters of local ordinances to regulate
the use of paper, plastic or other disposable bags or containers believe that
solid waste management is one of the core functions of local government and
these items are a costly problem for their landfills and systems. They say that
plastic bags that fly away from local landfills
often land in trees and on neighboring properties costing local governments and
taxpayers money to pick up the litter. Supporters claim that disposable bag and
container regulations should be left to local communities to decide where
residents, government officials and businesses can gather to debate the pros
and cons and decisions can be made that reflect the community’s values and
standards. They argue that state government should not be micromanaging city,
village, township and county affairs.

Should local
governments be allowed to regulate or ban the use of plastic bags or other
disposable packaging and containers?

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