Plastic bag brouhaha heating up in the Georgia General Assembly

With the weather woes and school closings - or in the case of Gwinnett, school openings - there has been much brouhaha this last week in February 2015 in the Atlanta metro. Whether one agreed with how the leaders responded, no one can disagree that there was a smattering of opinion on the social nets and traditional radio and television concerning how the metro area handles winter weather. When anything like this hits the general population, it seems like many folks elect themselves governor, mayor, school superintendent, lawyer and/or meteorologist. Let's face it: predicting any type of weather has been and looks to be an inexact science. The bottom line is that folks in charge wish to do what's best for his or her community. Who wants to have a regional or worse yet, national embarrassment on his or her hands?

Now that North Georgia and the metro area has thawed out, hopefully we're done with any threat of a snow or ice event for this winter season. Nevertheless, let's not forget how the metro area was hammered in mid-March 1993. We still have a bit of winter left.

As the winter weather brouhaha was simmering down, there was another one brewing in the state legislature in the form of Senate Bill 139. The Georgia Senate would like to make things a bit more simple by banning the ban on plastic bags. On Thursday, February 27th, the Georgia Senate voted to prohibit cities and counties from banning the use of plastic bags. SB 139 is meant to make things a bit more clear to business owners as to whether they can allow customers to collect their goods in a paper or plastic bag.

In other parts of the nation - and perhaps world - governments have banned the use of plastic bags. Those very governments feel that plastic bags contribute to quickly filling up our landfills as well as being  environmentally detrimental. Plus, the production of plastic bags and other plastic products require more oil production. That last concern is most likely more pressing overseas, but it could be highlighted a bit more in the U.S. in the future.

Down along the Georgia coast, plastic bags can end up around sea turtles and their cousins who may eat the bags thus suffocating or choking on them. To some, that scenario can be far-fetched, but upon thinking about it, how many times have you seen plastic bags on the side of the road? Local Georgia coastal governments have been concerned about plastic bags getting into the wrong hands - or in this case, paws. They would like to craft bills that could protect sea turtles and other marine life in their areas. Some officials in Tybee Island and even inland in Athens are wishing to enact a plastic bag ban.

Aside from environmental concerns, folks who are against SB 139 argue that local governments ought to make the call on the use of plastic bags. They say that cities and counties should make the call on paper or plastic. SB 139 passed the Georgia Senate and is going onto the House. If the governor signs the legislation, then local governments essentially give up their decision-making power on the plastic bag use.

Leaving the environmental debate out of this issue, it's interesting that local governments, who have been fighting for local control all these years, could possibly make the exception on the use of plastic bags.

Obviously, any decision on bag use impacts restaurateurs, grocers and retailers alike. I am impressed with what grocer Aldi practices. Aldi charges for the use of bags which gets the consumer to think about the production costs. So, if I wish to save money at Aldi, I bring in my own cloth bags.

As a consumer, would you be OK with your local government banning plastic bag use thus requiring you to buy your own reusable bags or using only paper bags?


Most viewed

Condos. Cutting-edge restaurants. Trendy shopping.

Take time out for Virginia’s Shenandoah region

Flashback: Billy Joel's Sax Player (Mark Rivera profile-March 2007)