A contentious bill to prohibit municipalities from taxing or banning plastic bags has passed the legislature, and now faces a potential veto at the hands of Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.
Several manufacturers of the plastic used for disposable shopping bags are based around Pennsylvania, and employ over a thousand people. The Republican sponsors of the bill say that’s the main reason they’re supporting it.
The measure comes as a reaction to a trend of taxing or banning plastic bags in other states. Nothing like that has passed in Pennsylvania yet, though several lawmakers have tried it.
Democratic Senator Daylin Leach, of Montgomery County, lobbied unsuccessfully for a 2-cent bag tax.
He said he thinks supporters of the newly-passed bill are disingenuous for saying bag taxes and bans aren’t effective.
“I mean the fewer bags like these we have going out into the community, and therefore into the environment, the better,” he said. “And to say that to prohibit them doesn’t result in fewer bags doesn’t make any logical sense.”
Bill supporters have maintained that recycling the plastic bags is a better solution. That’s a service generally performed by the companies that manufacture the bags.
Leach also said he suspects the moratorium on taxes like the one he proposed is special-interest-driven.
“I don’t think it’s a secret,” he said. “I think it’s obvious that the people who make money selling these things are the ones behind efforts to prohibit bans on them.”
The bill’s sponsors deny that.
Governor Tom Wolf has said he doesn’t support the bill, but hasn’t yet confirmed if he plans to strike it down.
It’s unclear if the chambers would be able to muster the votes—or the will—to override a veto.