The IBJ reports on a measure approved by the Indiana Senate that would prevent local government units from taxing or restricting the use of disposable plastic bags by retailers, including grocery stores.
Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, said businesses, industry groups and many consumers oppose regulation of bag use.
Many consumers are also citizens who believe the cities they live in should have the right to determine their own policies–on plastic bags, on public transportation, and on the myriad other issues pre-empted by state legislators who believe that they know better than local officials what rules Indiana residents should follow, and what programs and/or initiatives those residents should be allowed to implement.
Whatever your opinion about plastic bags or public transportation, the high-handedness of our statehouse overlords on those and other issues ought to infuriate you.
It is particularly offensive that decisions affecting residents of urban areas are routinely made by representatives of suburban and especially rural populations, whose grasp of the challenges and realities faced by elected officials in metropolitan areas is limited, at best, and whose hostility to the needs of Indianapolis and Central Indiana is a perennial statehouse reality.
This disinclination to allow Indianapolis to govern itself, to make decisions about its own affairs, is particularly galling because the city is the economic driver of the state.
Talk about your “makers” and “takers”!
When I become morose about the sad level of policy in Indiana, a news item will often remind me that We Are Not Alone.
We have an excellent recent example from Arizona. Arizona is one of those states that can be depended upon to resist federal mandates and trumpet the virtues of local control. State level local control, that is. (Much like with Indiana, what state-level lawmakers really want is the ability to thumb their noses at both the federal government and local political subdivisions. If the statehouse exercises authority, it’s good; if a city or county wants freedom to manage its own affairs, that’s terrible.)
Case in point: Arizona just passed a bill banning efforts by local government units to discourage the use of plastic bags. As the New York Times reported,
State Senator Nancy Barto, the bill’s sponsor and a Republican, said that “excessive regulation on containers creates more work and cost for retailers and other businesses — and leads to higher consumer cost and a drag on economic growth.” She added: “Municipalities acting on their own to implement these mandates run counter to the state’s goal to overcome Arizona’s sluggish job growth and economic stability.”
The only city to carry out any such rule is Bisbee, southeast of Tucson, which banned single-use plastic bags and requires a 5-cent charge per paper bag.
Lauren Kuby, a city councilwoman in Tempe, cited estimates that 50 million single-use plastic bags are used each year in the city and that less than 5 percent are recycled. She said the city faced costs from litter, as well as from the damage the plastic bags caused to machinery at recycling facilities.
Allowing cities and towns to decide for themselves which policy is most cost-effective and/or environmentally sound is evidently unthinkable in Arizona’s statehouse.
Sounds a lot like Indiana, where lawmakers deeply resent regulation by the federal government, but made Indianapolis beg for three plus years for permission to hold a referendum on whether to tax ourselves to support decent public transportation.