House Passes Legislation Protecting Consumers and Businesses

The Ohio House passed House Bill 625, legislation that protects consumers and businesses by prohibiting local governments from imposing a tax, fee, or ban on disposable plastic bags and other containers. Local governments in Ohio have recently made moves toward enacting these misguided revenue raisers under the guise of reducing waste. If this bill becomes law, Ohio would join a growing list of states saying “no” to these ineffective mandates.

Local ordinances that impose a tax on these containers result in added costs that directly impact the bottom line for many businesses, both large and small. They also can create compliance problems for a business, as the ordinances often mandate strict measuring, counting, recordkeeping and reporting rules with which a business is forced to comply. These added costs not only impact a business’s bottom line, but the extra tax also impacts consumers’ purchasing power by making every trip to a store, restaurant or any establishment that utilizes auxiliary containers more expensive.

Reducing litter is important to keeping Ohio’s water and air clean, but initiatives in other municipalities to tax plastic bags have proven to only pad municipal coffers and do nothing to reduce littering that is already illegal. Studies show that the plastic bags commonly found in retailers make up a very small amount of litter, less than two percent. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Ohio’s 52 solid waste management districts already administer numerous programs that are better positioned to address any perceived littering problems.

Government mandates to dictate behavior changes often backfire and produce multiple unintended consequences. If enacted by municipalities, the potential patchwork of burdensome taxes and compliance obligations will only lead to increased costs and less consumer choice. House Bill 625 prevents these anti-competitive initiatives and the Ohio Chamber urges the Ohio Senate to pass the bill before the impending end to this General Assembly.