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Ohio House Passes Ban On Local Plastic Bag Bans

Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the country, will phase out the use of plastic bags in its stores by 2025.
Rogelio V. Solis

Voting mostly along party lines, the Ohio House has passed a bill banning local communities from restricting the use of plastic bags, sending it on to the Senate.

Three municipalities in Ohio, including the city of Bexley and Cuyahoga County, have passed ordinances that would charge retailers for distributing single-use plastics like grocery bags.

Republican House Speaker Larry Householder supports the bill to prohibit those laws, saying retailers need uniform rules.

“There should be consistency as far as your business is concerned," Householder says.

The bill's main sponsor, state Rep. George Lang, claims it will stop the flow of people who have moved out or left Ohio.

“The data is so empirical that we are getting our asses kicked by other pro-business friendly states," he said. "We’re the fifth most 'left' state in the nation.”

Opponents of the bill, mostly Democrats, say they're concerned about Ohio's plastic waste disposal problem, citing millions of plastic currently floating in Lake Erie. Local government officials, as well as Gov. Mike DeWine, have also questioned if it violates the home ruleprovision of the Ohio Constitution.

“It's not a violation of home rule because the legislature’s doing it, you know," Householder says. "We created and that's all part of the program.”

Democratic Minority Leader Emilia Sykes says that while concerns about a patchwork of regulations are real, this is not an issue for state lawmakers to decide.

“I think it oversteps our boundaries as a body and we should definitely let our local communities make this decision for themselves," Sykes says.

There's a similar bill in the Senate, but it's still in committee.

DeWine has said he thinks banning local bans would be a mistake, suggesting a possible veto.