by DAVID A. LIEB | Associated Press  |  published on May 18, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Alarmed about cities trying to outlaw plastic bags, the director of the Missouri Grocers Association decided to do something about it. So Dan Shaul turned to his state legislator- himself – and guided a bill to passage barring local governments from banning the bags.

Shaul’s dual role in state government and business may be a bit out of the norm. Yet his actions are not. In capitols across the country, businesses are increasingly using their clout to back laws prohibiting cities and counties from doing things that might affect their ability to make money.

In the past five years, roughly a dozen states have enacted laws barring local governments from requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave to employees. The number of states banning local minimum wages has grown to 15. And while oil-rich states such as Texas and Oklahoma are pursuing bills banning local restrictions on drilling, other states where agriculture is big business have been banning local limitations on the types of seeds sown for crops.

  • I Seigel

    Missouri can pollute their lands and waterways all they want. In cities that care about their environment – their shorelines, their native fish, etc – plastic bags have been banned and shoppers bring their reusable bags into the grocery stores. Or they pay 5 whole cents for a paper bag. It takes a few trips to the supermarket to get used to the idea, then it’s no big deal. Of course, the bag makers didn’t like it. But fisherman, native American tribes, and anyone who lives near the water or enjoys boating, fishing or swimming thinks it’s great. As do the people who manage the wastewater treatment plants.

    • Bill Blackstone

      Really? Your research should be further than this article. Plastic bags for one thing are not the culprits. It’s people. Democrats and Republicans alike. To make a paper bag. You still need to cut down a tree. There is literally no way to make any paper product that secures article and supports weight to be made out of 100% recycled paper. If you want to outlaw plastic bags because they are bad for the environment. Outlaw ALL plastics period. Plastic as a whole is bad for the environment. Outlaw paper products. Save the trees. Outlaw metal. It rust’s. Dangerous for the children. My point. It comes down to responsibility. The humans being responsible enough to be trusted with the dreaded plastic bags. To bad the government can’t trust it’s citizens enough to have plastic bags. Then again. These lazy fat candy grubbing dip sticks can’t even return their shopping cart to the corral.

      • I Seigel

        You’re very correct – it IS a matter of personal responsibility, and PEOPLE, not plastic bags, pollute.

        So in the LaLa Land that you live in, there must be no need for laws of any kind, because your neighbors and fellow citizens are all perfect, law-abiding, citizens. You have no need for a local police force or even a city council, because people just agree to solve problems together. NICE!

        In other parts of the country, people aren’t so civic-minded. We need laws and people looking to make sure that your right to pollute doesn’t affect your neighbor’s right to clean water, or the tribal rights to fish.

        Yes, of course resources are used to make paper bags. In a city where people make an effort to conserve or recycle, many of those paper bags are reused or recycled, and plastic bags are recycled. But when tossed out, the paper bag can slowly degrade and “self-compost”, the plastic bag doesn’t. You know all this – why are you being so obtuse?

        The goal that many municipalities has is to get grocery shoppers to bring a sturdy, reusable bag with them when they shop. The bag can be used again and again, lessening the use of paper bags, which are still available if you need one. It takes some getting used to. You don’t get a fine or a ticket if you don’t bring in your reusable bag – you just pay a nickel for a bag, which is a gentle way to help you to change your behavior.
        Plastic will never be completely banned, because the bag and plastic manufacturers have powerful lobbies. Just as aluminum cans, gasoline, and high fructose corn syrup will never be banned. But that’s another issue.

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