State Lawmakers Block Plastic Bag Bans

State Lawmakers Block Plastic Bag Bans

After several years of failed attempts to pass free-standing legislation blocking municipal plastic bag bans, Pennsylvania lawmakers used a budget-related bill to extend a current moratorium on such bans for at least a year, with little debate and no public hearings.

The new provision, inserted into the fiscal code (HB1083) just hours before a full vote, is tucked between parts of an amendment on how to spend state gambling proceeds. It prohibits municipalities from enacting any fees or restrictions on all single-use plastics such as bags, utensils or styrofoam containers.

If approved, it would effectively delay implementation of any current plastic bag bans such as those passed in Philadelphia, West Chester and Narberth, at least until July 1, 2021, or six months after Gov. Tom Wolf lifts his COVID-19 state of emergency.

State lawmakers tried to permanently ban plastic bag bans in 2017, but Wolf vetoed the bill, citing the Environmental Rights Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution.

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