A bill that would prohibit local governments from passing laws banning the sale of plastic bags passed in the South Carolina House of Representatives Wednesday afternoon.
In a vote of 73-41, the S.C. House of Representatives passed H. 3529, which rests the power of regulating the sale of “auxiliary containers” solely in the hands of the General Assembly.
“Auxiliary containers” are defined in the bill as anything “designed to be either reusable or single-use” that is made of cloth, paper, plastic, or other materials.
The move comes before Mt. Pleasant Town Council takes up the issue next week. The town’s proposed ban would prohibit single-use plastic and foam containers, according to The Post & Courier. Mt. Pleasant would be the largest municipality in the state to enact such a ban.
“Today’s vote is a rejection of home rule and the best interests of our communities and environment,” said Emily Cedzo of the Coastal Conservation League in a statement after the bill passed. “Local governments and citizens should have the right to address local problems, like plastic pollution, with local solutions. We will continue to fight for them.”
The bill warns of the potential costs to retailers and restaurants should they be forced to comply with such regulations. Environmental advocates, on the other hand, point to the booming tourism industry, especially in the Lowcountry, as proof that businesses can afford to take any encumbrances brought on by a plastic bag ban.
Isle of Palms enacted the first ban in 2015, with Folly Beach, Surfside Beach, and Beaufort County following after.
Prohibitions enacted before Jan. 31, 2018 would not be affected if the ban were to become law.
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