House Committee Sends Consumer and Business Protection Bill to the Full House

The Ohio House reintroduced a bill from last session (House Bill 625), now House Bill 242, that protects consumers and businesses by prohibiting local governments from imposing a tax, fee or ban on disposable plastic bags and other containers. HB 242 defines these as auxiliary containers. Local governments in Ohio have recently begun enacting these misguided bans, or revenue raisers, under the guise of reducing waste.

The Ohio House took the first step in enacting HB 242 by reporting the bill out of the State and Local Government Committee by a vote of 8-6 on Wednesday. It passed the House last session, and we hope to see HB 242 on the House floor very soon.

Local ordinances that impose a fee or tax on these containers result in added costs that directly impact the bottom line for many businesses, both large and small. These added costs not only impact a business’s bottom line, but the extra cost also impacts consumers’ purchasing power by making every trip to a store, restaurant or any establishment that utilizes auxiliary containers more expensive.  Furthermore, the local ordinances create compliance problems for a business.  Each locality will use different language in an ordinance thereby creating a cumbersome patchwork for manufacturers, distributors or retail businesses to comply with, especially if the business stretches beyond one local jurisdiction. Statewide preemption is needed to keep Ohio economically competitive with its neighboring states and to protect consumers from misguided local laws.

Reducing litter is important to keeping Ohio’s water and air clean, but initiatives in other municipalities have proven to do nothing to reduce littering that is already illegal. Studies show that the plastic bags commonly found at retailers make up a very small amount of litter, less than one 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.

HB 242 importantly will provide a statewide preemption against this patchwork of local ordinances as the marketplace naturally decides a course of action based upon consumer demand, technological breakthroughs, and other factors as the future unfolds. The Ohio Chamber urges the Ohio House to pass this legislation and send it to the Ohio Senate for consideration.