Plastic in the Legislature
The League anticipated the plastics lobby would attempt a state-level ban on plastic bag bans as soon as Isle of Palms passed its ordinance. This tactic is one that the plastics lobby (Novolex and the Progressive Bag Alliance) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has attempted in several other states, and is sometimes successful. Our Columbia team kept an eye on proposed legislation, and we were ready to act with our already-built grassroots team as soon as a bill appeared–H.4793. We utilized our communities and existing coalition partners to stave off the bill’s progression.
However, the plastic lobbyists have not given up, and proposed the bill (H.3529) yet again in the 2017-18 session. Representative Eric Bedingfield (R-Greenville) and co-sponsors introduced the bill in the House, and it bans municipalities from regulating both disposable and reusable packaging (also known as auxiliary containers). “Regulation” includes use, disposition, sale, or any imposition of any prohibition, restriction, fee, or taxation. The bill further states that only the General Assembly can impose regulation of auxiliary containers. Pushed by the plastics lobby in several states across the nation, the purpose of the bill is to prevent local councils from implementing local bans or fees on certain plastic products. A violation of Home Rule, the bill removes the power of local governments in deciding how to address local plastic pollution. The citizens, business owners, mayors and councilmembers of South Carolina are not interested in the plastics lobby dictating the health of our sea turtles, fish, birds, and waterbodies. We oppose the bill and after working with citizens, businesses, and coalition members, the bill was defeated by a narrow margin (50-49) in the House and will be back up for debate in next year’s legislative session.
We are preparing more efforts on the consumer and corporate sides for later this year, so stay tuned to find out how to help on those fronts.
Emily Cedzo is the lead in our Charleston office, but if you are in the South Coast area, please contact Rikki Parker, South Coast Project Manager, at 843.522.1800 for more information or to learn how to get involved.