The Michigan House of Representatives gave final passage Thursday to a bill that would prohibit local communities from banning or imposing fees on plastic bags in their community.
Supporters said it’s a common-sense law that will provide continuity for retailers with businesses in multiple communities.
But state Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, said communities like his take pride in keeping their streets clean and inviting.
“This is a bill that attacks local control,” he said. "Many of you in your communities aren’t considering this, but in Ann Arbor, we are. And that causes the state Legislature to become very reactionary in an attempt to subvert one city’s interests in making their city more beautiful.”
The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance in June that would impose a 10-cent fee on most plastic bags used by retailers to package goods for customers. Exceptions would be made for low-income residents and for plastic bags used to wrap frozen foods, meat or fish, newspapers, laundry dry cleaning or pet waste bags or bags used to prevent spills from prepared foods such as soups or salads. The ordinance was scheduled to take effect in April 2017.
The county estimates it costs about $200,000 a year to deal with plastic bags in the community, not only to clean them up, but also because of downtime when the bags clog recycling machinery.
The bill, which passed on a mostly party-line 62-46 vote with Republicans mostly supporting and Democrats opposing, will preempt the Washtenaw County ordinance.
The business community was squarely in support of the bill, saying that consistency is needed across the state.
The bill — SB 853 — now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature. His spokeswoman Anna Heaton said he'll review the bill when it gets to his desk.