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State Senate passes bill preventing local regulation of bags

May 10, 2016

While some cities across the U.S. are passing plastic bag bans and taxes, local governments in Michigan may not get to join in. 

The state Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would prevent local governments from regulating bags used in stores. The measure passed by a 25 to 12 vote, and now heads to the state House.

State Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, is lead sponsor of the bill. He said some businesses, though he wouldn't specify which, have approached him and asked to ensure such bag regulations are uniform across the state, which should help business operations. 

"This legislation would allow any of the corporations or businesses to make that type of decision on their own to do that," Stamas said in an interview. "But it doesn't put in place different standards in local areas across the state."

California became the first state to ban use of single-use plastic bags in grocery stores – the ban took effect last year. Cities like New York have imposed taxes on these bags, usually somewhere in the area of five to 10 cents. 

Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, voted against the Michigan bill. He said there are environmental benefits to curbing using plastic bags, and local governments could be a great place to try such laws out. 

Mostly, Bieda said the bill infringes on local autonomy, calling it a "solution looking for a problem."

"Trying to preempt the locals on an issue like this is state overreach, and it's something I've traditionally fought against," he said.