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Lawmakers Approve Bill To Ban Cities From Banning Plastic Bags

Austen Diamond for KUER
Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, is running a bill to limit local governments' ability to regulate bags, containers and packages.

Utah lawmakers approved a bill Monday night that would prohibit cities from banning plastic bags and other single-use packages and containers.

Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, is sponsoring the ban on plastic bag bans. He said it would provide consistency across the state for businesses such as grocery stores and restaurants.


Selling and using reusable bags is “something that a company can decide, that’s something that a consumer can decide,” McKell said. He argued that a “patchwork” of different regulations across local governments is difficult and expensive for businesses.


Park City and Moab are the only cities in Utah that currently ban single-use plastic bags, though Logan is considering a ban, too.


Rep. Christine Watkins, R-Price, tried to amend the bill to grandfather in the Park City and Moab ordinances, but was unsuccessful, though McKell said he would be open to such an amendment.


The House Natural Resources Committee voted 6-4 to advance the bill to the House floor.


The Utah League of Cities and Towns spoke against the bill, arguing it would preempt local control.


“This bill, for us, is about the preemption, it’s not about the plastic,” said the League’s government relations director Rachel Otto.  


A similar ban was proposed in the Legislature in 2018 but failed on the House Floor on the final night of the session.  

Nicole Nixon holds a Communication degree from the University of Utah. She has worked on and off in the KUER Newsroom since 2013, when she first joined KUER as an intern. Nicole is a Utah native. Besides public radio, she is also passionate about beautiful landscapes and breakfast burritos.
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