Lawmakers discuss bill banning cities from regulating paper, plastic bag usage

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – The question of paper or plastic was discussed by lawmakers on Thursday in a House committee hearing.

HB2625 would preempt cities and counties from regulating the use of paper or plastic carryout bags, as well as other single-use plastic items.

“In a week maybe 6,000 bags go through here,” said Angi Thomas, store manager of Wehner’s Thriftway in Rossville. “Yeah, we use a lot of bags.”

Thomas says her store encourages the use of reusable bags and even holds a drawing for a gift card that customers can enter when they bring their own bags or purchase one there.

However, whether to provide paper or plastic bags is a decision that store owners should be able to make, Thomas said.

“The government has a lot of power over small businesses all over the United States and I think that if businesses are left to make their choices, they’re going to make the right choices in the long run,” Thomas said.

This bill, if passed, would benefit larger chain stores, said Rep. Sean Tarwater, R-Stilwell, chair of the Commerce, Labor and Economic Development house committee.

“It’s difficult for a multi-location business to make it with all the cities making different laws,” Tarwater said. “It’s kind of hard to follow, and so they can get in trouble.”

However, those against the bill are instead saying this decision should be up to the cities.

“How much of a problem this is, especially as far as on the environment, can definitely change by area,” Rep. Stephanie Yeager, D-Wichita, said. “I think it’s pretty important.”

Even if the bill does pass, cities may be able to find ways to maneuver around the ban in an effort to reduce the use of paper or plastic bags, Yeager said, without getting in trouble.

Tarwater said he hopes the committee can produce a bill that both stores and cities equally agree upon next week.

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