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Tennessee lawmakers look to prevent ban of plastic bags

Posted at 9:08 PM, Mar 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-27 13:51:57-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — The battle over bags heats up in the Tennessee Legislature.

Tennessee could become the latest state to ban local municipalities from regulating certain plastic bags and utensils.

House Bill 1021 would make it illegal for local governments to impose bag bans, or restrictions on Styrofoam containers and other disposable products.

Supporters, including the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association (TGCSA) said one set of rules across the state would be better for business and customers.

“We really want a statewide standard instead of a patchwork of rules that go community by community,” said Rob Ikard, President and CEO of TGCSA. “We find that mish-mash of rules makes doing business risky, confusing for the customer and more expensive.”

Opponents argued the General Assembly should not bypass local government decisions.

“Here again, we’ve got the State Legislature trying to step on Nashville,” said Rep. Mike Stewart, a Democrat representing Davidson County. “People all across the city recognize Nashville should do its part to help the environment by regulating plastics.”

Ikard said the TGCSA supports alternatives to plastic bags, and stores like Kroger are planning to phase out the bags by 2025. He said he felt a state standard would also help sustainability initiatives underway.

The state currently has no plastic bag ban in place.

Tennessee is one of at least five states where lawmakers are considering preempting local governments from taxing or banning plastic bags. Eleven other states already have similar laws in place.

House Bill 1021 passed on Monday. Senate Bill 0431 is up for discussion on Thursday.