Published July 11, 2012
A bill to ban shopping bag bans.
It’s a tongue-twister to say -- and could be just as difficult to sign. But Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has to make that decision, as he considers whether to endorse a bill on his desk that would prohibit local governments across the state from banning plastic shopping bags.
Even the politics is a bit confusing, considering conservative thinkers have joined environmentalists in asking the Democratic governor to reject the Plastic Bag and Film Recycling Act.
GOP state Sen. John Millner, though, cosponsored the legislation and said it was crafted to promote recycling.
“Some people like plastic bags, some people don’t,” he told FoxNews.com Wednesday. “But people discarding them like litter has got to stop. This leads us into a recycling plan that we otherwise would not have.”
Millner suggested local restrictions on plastic are excessive and unnecessary. He compared the situation to earlier times when motorists routinely threw paper trash out car windows, saying “we didn’t ban paper” in response.
But environmental groups such as the Surfrider Foundation argue bags pollute waterways like Lake Michigan -- and that bans on bags reduce that pollution.
"Our primary concern is the effect that single-use plastic bags have on humans and animals, particularly in the oceans of the world," said group member Rob Cole.
The group also thinks the legislation "prevents home-rule authority."
A recent editorial in The Chicago Sun-Times echoed that view, saying: “Banning communities across Illinois the recourse to get rid of plastic bags should be the decision of individual towns. Just like communities have made decisions on video gaming and the types of liquor establishments they want in their cities and villages … . That’s what Village Boards are for.”
But supporters of the proposed Plastic Bag and Film Recycling Act -- including corporate interests -- say the legislation allows for recycling as an alternative.
This is not the first time plastic bags have stirred rigorous debate and legislation. Liberal-leaning District of Columbia and neighboring Montgomery County, Md., have imposed a 5-cent user charge for plastic grocery bags.
Quinn has yet to decide, and his office gave no timeline Tuesday for a decision, saying only that SB 3442 was under review.
A reported 150,000 people worldwide have signed a petition asking Quinn not to sign the bill, which excluded Chicago and had bipartisan support in the state legislature.