Lawmakers discuss ban on banning plastic bags

Posted at 7:10 PM, Mar 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-14 21:58:57-04

While many states are discussing banning plastic bags, Wisconsin's lawmakers are discussing banning those bans.

Senators are slated to look at a bill that "limits the authority of a political subdivision (a city, village, town, or county) to regulate auxiliary containers." "Auxiliary container" is defined as:

"a bag, cup, bottle, or other packaging that is designed to be reusable or single-use; that is made of cloth, paper, plastic, cardboard, corrugated material, aluminum, glass, postconsumer recycled material, or similar material or substrates, including coated, laminated, or multi-layer substrates; and that is designed for transporting or protecting merchandise, food, or beverages from a food service or retail facility."

Felix Glorioso, the manager at Glorioso's in Milwaukee said he would support the ban, but can't see why lawmakers are spending their time on this.

But introducing Senator Roger Roth said he wants Wisconsin's government to be proactive, rather than reactive. He said he wants to avoid "patchwork" governing, which he believes would happen if cities could decide on their own to ban plastic bags. He said it makes things more difficult for retailers.

Roth also said his research found the bags' carbon footprint is less than that of alternatives like paper or cloth bags.

However, Ken Leinbach, the Executive Director of the Urban Ecology Center, said Milwaukee has a problem with plastic bags.

Along with litter detracting from enjoyment of County Parks, he said it can impact students' outdoor education and the wildlife.

"Some of the sea birds that come up will think it's a jellyfish and ingest it and their necks get caught in it," he said. "So plastic bags, in general aren't a great idea, so to ban a ban, is in my mind going in the wrong direction."

The Wisconsin Senate likely won't take up bills that would outlaw so-called sanctuary cities for immigrants, increase compensation for the wrongly convicted and allow students to deduct debt from their income taxes when it convenes Tuesday for what's expected to be the last floor period of the two-year legislative session.

Republicans who control the chamber released the agenda Monday. The Assembly finished its work for the session last month; if Senate Republicans stick to the agenda, the immigration, wrongful conviction and student debt bills, as well as a number of measures to combat dementia, are all probably dead.

So, too, are a handful of other contentious proposals, including banning research using fetal tissue and forcing students to use bathrooms assigned to their biological sex.