House Democratic Southeast Delegation members oppose overreaching plastic-bag bill

HARRISBURG, April 25 – Members of the House Democratic Southeast Delegation today announced their opposition to an overreaching and environmentally hazardous bill that would prevent Pennsylvania communities from protecting land and water from pollution caused by plastic bags.

House Bill 1071 would permanently prohibit municipalities and other local authorities from banning or applying any surcharge or tax on the use of plastic grocery bags.

York, Erie, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia represent just a few of the city councils across Pennsylvania that have voiced opposition to H.B. 1071.

“This bill hamstrings local governments from protecting their land and water from ecologically hazardous and unsightly garbage,” said state Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery. “Proponents of this bill try to make the case that recycling numbers are up but leave out the fact that proliferation is the real cause for the increase in those numbers. Widespread and growing use is also to blame for the drastic increase in wayward and littered bags, too.”

Currently, 165 municipalities across the country have adopted some form of single-use plastic bag fee legislation or bag regulation to positive results. Following implementation of a citywide bag fee in 2010, the presence of bags in Washington, D.C., decreased by 67 percent, saving waste collection services there both time and money.

If H.B. 1071 is enacted, constituents would not have the opportunity to press their case for a fee before their local legislative body. City, town and county councils would be forced to search elsewhere for revenue streams to fund services such as street-cleaning, water clean-up and landfill remediation.

“Preventing pollution and cleaning up litter used to be a nonpartisan citizen’s cause,” said state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware. “This bill, backed by special interests that are headquartered out of state, makes it harder for local elected officials to make their own decisions about the best way to fight litter in their own communities.”

“Environmental stewardship and sustainability is a No. 1 priority among the residents of my district,” said state Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester. “This bill does not align with our district values, and that is why I strongly oppose it.”

“Pre-emptive bans are some of the worst laws that state legislators can write because they paint democratic governments into corners that are no longer representative of the people who elect them,” said state Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery. “When you reach this point, there is no longer government by the people and for the people; we are only left with special interests over people.”