Now that a statewide moratorium on plastic bag bans has expired, Cuyahoga County will once again attempt to enact legislation banning their use in most cases. County Councilwoman Sunny Simon, the original advocate and lead sponsor of the legislation, told Cleveland.com last week
that the county is getting a team together to "start working on a date for implementation."
Don't hold your breath.
The county effort to legislate against plastic bag use has been a herky-jerky saga indeed. Simon originally attempted to rally support for a fee on plastic bags without success. The fee seemed to make sense: It would have encouraged re-usable bags while also generating revenue for environmental cleanup efforts. (It also would have allowed grocers and other businesses to pass on the costs of paper bags to consumers.) But an outright ban was nevertheless preferred by Simon's colleagues.
The county was poised to instate it, and become the largest county in Ohio to do so, when the pandemic got in the way. Gov. Mike DeWine imposed a one-year moratorium on all fees and bans, believing that the expense of paper bags would be one more hurdle for businesses that were already struggling.
This summer, Cleveland.com's Kaitlin Durbin reports, the Ohio legislature quietly wrote a provision that pre-empts local governments by preventing them from levying taxes or fees on auxiliary containers like plastic bags. This sort of legislating is par for the course for the Republican hacks in Columbus, "bought and paid for" by the plastic bag lobby, (according to Simon). But the existing provision does not forbid bans — at least not yet.
Given the roadblocks that the local legislation has faced in the past, we're not convinced that members of Cuyahoga County Council, or the state legislature, will be inclined to let Simon get her way, even though the ban includes a number of exemptions. Another local delay, or another piece of pre-emptive state legislation written by lobbyists, could very well be in the offing.
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