New bill could ban cities and towns from banning plastic bags

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Banning the ban: Towns and cities across the state could soon lose the legal ability to place a ban on plastic bags.

State senators will be discussing a new bill on Wednesday that would put an end to plastic bag ordinances.

If the state Senate votes in favor of the House's ban, any city or town that introduced a plastic bag ban before Jan. 31 would be able to keep that ordinance in place. But towns or cities trying to add one will not be able to.

"It's one of those instances where the state needs to back away a little bit and let us do our thing," councilmember and Planet Follywood owner D.J. Rich said.

Folly Beach passed a plastic bag ban in 2016 so they will not be affected if this new bill passes. Rich, however, said not allowing cities or towns even consider making a change is frustrating.

"There are still a lot of other coastal communities who are just now coming around to seeing the benefits of this," Rich said. "With the bill, they won't be able to, which is really sad for our area."

One of those towns is Mount Pleasant.

On Feb. 13, Town Council voted to move forward with an ordinance to put a ban on some plastic and Styrofoam products. That ban was introduced in the Public Services Committee on Feb. 5 – just five days from the deadline under the new bill.

Mount Pleasant's council is already thinking of what to do if it comes to that.

"We would still have a campaign, and at the end, we may have an ordinance that's allowed by the state or we would just have a really good campaign," said Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie.

The bill passed the House on February 7 with 73 Yeas and 41 Nays.

Click here to see how your elected official voted.

Click here to voice your opinion to your state legislator.

Bill H.3529 reads:

A bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Chapter 77 to Title 39 so as to provide that any regulation regarding the use, disposition, sale or any imposition of any prohibition, restriction, fee imposition, or taxation of auxiliary containers must be done only by the General Assembly, to define auxiliary container, to provide for legislative findings, and to provide for exceptions.

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