PHOENIX – While its neighboring state of California implemented a statewide ban on plastic bags last year, after numerous cities implemented their own separate bans, Arizona lawmakers have taken the opposite approach. Arizona lawmakers voted this month to make it illegal for cities to impose bag bans, angering municipalities over what they see as heavy-handed action by the state. The law also makes it illegal for cities to ban Styrofoam containers and other disposable products, and blocks cities from requiring business owners to report energy usage consumption, something some municipalities were considering to encourage energy-efficiency in buildings.
Last Earth Day, Bisbee, Arizona, banned plastic bags and Flagstaff and Tempe were considering similar bans, efforts that are now in question. The two cities have since dropped their proposals to ban plastic bags, but are considering taking legal action against the state. This is not the only example of Arizona lawmakers taking authority away from local jurisdictions, as they recently forbid any of the state’s cities from increasing their minimum wage, among other controversial issues.
According to the Associated Press, other conservative states are making similar moves to ban plastic bag bans. Florida already has made it illegal for municipalities to ban plastic bags, and lawmakers are considering similar legislation in Missouri and Texas.
The Arizona bill to outlaw bag bans was backed by the Arizona Retailers Association and the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance. Tim McCabe, president of Arizona Food Marketing Alliance, told the Associated Press that the statewide ban makes it easier for customers who may be confused by a patchwork of city regulations.