Thursday, June 22, 2017

Gov. Wolf to veto bill blocking local plastic-bag bans

Jon Hurdle reports for StateImpact:

Gov.Tom Wolf said he will veto a bill that would stop Pennsylvania towns and cities taxing or banning plastic single-use shopping bags.
The bill, HB 1071, went to Wolf’s desk after receiving final legislative approval from the Senate on June 14. It received bipartisan support, including from the lead sponsor, Democratic Rep. Mike Hanna of Centre County, who sought to protect jobs in a plastic bag factory in his district.
Wolf’s spokesman, J.J. Abbott, said Thursday he expects the governor will formally veto the bill in the next week, and will give his reasons for doing so at that time.
“He plans to veto the bill,” Abbott said in a statement. “When that is done, we will send a veto message to the General Assembly explaining why.”
Supporters say that by preventing cities limiting the use of single-use bags, the bill would help to protect some 1,500 jobs at bag manufacturers statewide, and that the governor’s promised veto puts those jobs at risk.
Matt Seaholm, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, a trade group, urged Wolf to reconsider his veto in view of the bill’s bipartisan support in both houses.
“These legislators are concerned about their constituents and the jobs in their districts,” Seaholm said in a statement. “The Governor should follow their lead.”
Seaholm said plastic bag ordinances enacted by local government restrict consumer choice, and argued that 90 percent of Americans have access to voluntary bag-recycling programs which have shown strong growth in the last decade.
Critics of the bill say single-use bags are an unnecessary use of fossil fuels, clog drains, pollute waterways, and add to waste-disposal costs in cash-strapped cities. They also argue that municipalities should be allowed to write their own ordinances on matters such as waste disposal that are legitimately a matter for local regulations rather than a statewide law.
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