Pa. House Passes Bill That Would Forbid Regulating Plastic Bag Sales

The legislation serves as pushback against a growing environmental effort – one that Philly has long considered.

The state House of Representatives has passed a bill that would forbid Philadelphia and other municipalities from regulating plastic bag sales.

It’s pushback against a green effort implemented by more than 190 cities and towns across the country – including Washington, D.C., Seattle, Chicago and Austin.

The regulations are largely enacted to cut back on the harmful environmental effects of plastic bags (they become litter, get caught up in waterways/tree branches and are ingested by animals) while generating a revenue stream.

But supporters of the bill say regulations could hurt the state’s manufacturing and recycling industries. The measure has been touted as a job-friendly bill that would “protect the 1,500 Pennsylvania residents whose jobs depend on the plastic bag recycling and manufacturing industry,” House Minority White Mike Hanna, a Democrat who sponsors the bill, told City&State PA

Philadelphia City Council members have long considered regulating plastic bag sales. In fact, if the city passed a modest 5-cents-per-bag tax  – like Washington, D.C. – it could bring in yearly revenues that exceed $6 million. And the regulations could potentially help the city meet its Zero Waste goal.

City Council reportedly denounced the bill in a letter sent a letter to Pa. House members.

“By prohibiting a potential revenue source to fund worthy initiatives such as waste removal, House Bill 1071 further ties municipalities’ hands and places a greater burden on individuals and businesses that pay property taxes,” the letter reads, according to City&State PA.

“In Philadelphia, residents have requested and City Council has considered plastic bag fee legislation to reduce litter and fund initiatives to improve air and water quality. If House Bill 1071 is enacted, our constituents will not have the opportunity to press their case for a fee before their local legislative body. City Council would be forced to search elsewhere for revenue streams to fund worthy services such as street cleaning.”

The bill now heads to the Senate.

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