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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

 7:12 PM 

Plastic bag bill gets Senate OK

Despite Dems arguing the bill takes away local control and hurts the environment, the Senate has approved legislation that would prohibit municipalities from passing bans on "auxiliary containers," such as plastic bags or take-out boxes.

AB 730 passed 19-13 along party lines. It now goes to Gov. Scott Walker.

"I deeply resent this attack on local control," Sen. Robert Wirch, D-Kenosha, said.

But Sen. Frank Lasee called that "just a bunch of hooey." The De Pere Republican said Dems are using rhetoric but missing the point about the role of state government. He said state lawmakers need to strike a balance between local control and fairness for all.

"I think this is reasonable," Lasee said, "and it's reasonable for us to lay out parameters."

It's not fair to the city of Eau Claire, Sen. Kathleen Vinehout said. The Alma Dem said the legislation should be called "Eau Claire City Council vs. Walmart" legislation.

The city, she said, found a way to save money by getting people to bring their own bags to stores. Vinehout said local businesses, including Walmart, supported the idea. But then statewide groups heard about it and raised an uproar, leading to the legislation.

"This is ridiculous," she said.

Bill author Sen. Roger Roth said preventing the bans actually is better for the environment because replacement bags actually take longer to decompose. Furthermore, the Appleton Republican said, it prevents patchwork ordinances that could put some businesses at a disadvantage.

"It's a very proactive bill," Roth said, "that seeks to get ahead of the curve."


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