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Sean Moody, KSL TV

Proposed law would limit municipalities' ability to restrict plastic bags, other containers

By Sean Moody, KSL TV | Posted - Mar 5th, 2018 @ 10:48pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit a local government from regulating containers like plastic grocery bags. The bill would overturn a ban on plastic bags that Park City passed recently.

In 2017, Park City passed an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags at large grocery stores in the city.

"Plastic bags are an issue for our recycling system, our waste, and also litter," said Luke Cartin, Park City's environmental sustainability manager.

He said the city had received favorable comments from citizens since the ban went into effect in May 2017.

SB218, sponsored by Sen. Gregg Buxton, R-Roy, would overturn that ban. Instead of specifically being written to address that issue, though, the language is broad. According to the text of the bill, SB218 "prohibits a local government entity from regulating or imposing a fee on an auxiliary container, unless the auxiliary container is used on property owned by the local government entity."

Supporters say the bill would create consistency across the state.

Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, last week told KSL the bill was similar to a law establishing a uniform minimum-wage across the state.

"This container regulation act does the same thing to say if we're going to have regulations about containers, it's going to be statewide so the citizens of this state don't have to wonder as they go from boundary to boundary," Stephenson said.

Cartin, though, believes municipalities should have the ability to respond to their citizens' wishes on issues like this.

"This is a rub between municipalities and the state," he said. "If Park City residents want something and they ask their local electeds, local electeds need to react."

SB218 passed out of the Senate on Feb. 28. As of Monday evening, it was awaiting a hearing in the House Rules Committee.

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