Senate Budget Includes Ban On Plastic Bag Fees In Ohio Communities

Jun 22, 2021

A familiar idea is among the proposals added by Senate Republicans into their version of the budget – a ban on any fees that municipalities might want to put on plastic bags or other containers.

Sen. George Lang (R-West Chester) said this provision in the Senate budget isn't really about plastic bags. He said it's about limiting the number of entities that can impose taxes on businesses and residents.

“What it's really about is commerce, uniformity, businesses want to know they have predictability, they want to know what the rules are," Lang said. "And as we change the rules, that's a negative impact. So this will not reduce them, but it will stop us from increasing them.”

Lang claims taxes and tax policy are costing the state businesses and residents.

There has been a decline in population growth in Ohio compared to other states, which led the U.S. Census Bureau to announce earlier this year that the state would have 15 members of Congress for the next decade, down from 16.

Lang notes the state had 24 Congressmembers half a century ago.

“No other state is getting their asses kicked as bad on a percentage basis than Ohio. And it's our policies that we put in place that are causing it," Lang said.

The budget provision doesn’t cut down on those taxing entities, but Lang said it stops them from increasing taxes in this case.

A law banning regulations on plastic bags passed during the pandemic, but that ban will expire in January.

Critics have said this would violate communities’ home rule authority, and Gov. Mike DeWine had said when a ban on plastic bag bans was considered in 2019 that it "would be a mistake" and that the state "should allow local communities to do what they think is best."

But Lang said he has a legal opinion that this proposal doesn’t conflict with home rule.

Several Ohio communities have passed plastic bag bans, including Cuyahoga County and Bexley near Columbus. The pandemic forced reconsideration of many restrictions on plastic bags as customers were asked not to bring in reusable bags.

But the concerns about the proliferation of plastic and the harm it's doing to the environment has been growing. Lang said that's a "false narrative".

"If we eliminate all the pollution that America has, not just plastic bags, all of it, it's only a fraction of a small percentage of the pollution that's out there in the world," Lang said. "If we're not going to do anything with India, with China, with the Far East, with Asia, we're fooling ourselves if we think we can have an impact."