One vote keeps Senate from debating bill prohibiting local bans or fees on plastic bags, other single-use containers

Legislation that would preempt local governments from banning, regulating or taxing plastic grocery bags and other single-use containers missed being debated by the Alabama Senate by one vote.

In a procedural vote Tuesday, the Senate voted 17 to 13 to debate SB244 by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, before the two state budgets. The bill needed 18 votes, or three-fifths, to be discussed before the state’s spending plans. The legislation still could resurface later in the session.

The companion legislation – HB346 by Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville – also is in position to be debated by that chamber.

Under the legislation, only the state could ban, regulate, tax or charge usage fees related to cups, straws, plastic bags, takeout containers, Styrofoam and other “auxiliary” food, beverage or merchandise containers.

We need uniformity of commerce, a single regulation, so businesses and industries have knowledge of” Alabama’s policy regarding packaging products, Livingston told senators. Ledbetter has said a better approach would be to increase litter fines to keep consumers from disposing of the commonly used containers improperly.

The state’s five largest municipalities oppose the legislation. A coalition of business groups, including the Alabama Retail Association, supports this legislation so businesses throughout the state can operate under packaging product laws and regulations that are uniform for goods used daily in their operations.

The legislation does not prevent a state ban, tax or fee. It also allows necessary recycling programs to stay in place.

This article is part of the Alabama Retail Report, a communication for Alabama Retail Association members. Not a member? Join us!

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