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Effort to ban plastic bag bans stalls in Senate

By KIM CHANDLER Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An effort to prohibit cities from banning plastic grocery bags and other single-use containers stalled Tuesday in the Alabama Senate amid opposition from major cities and beach communities.

The bill narrowly failed a procedural vote needed to bring the bill up for debate before state budgets are approved.

The bill brought by Republican Sen. Steve Livingston of Scottsboro would prohibit cities from banning the use of plastic bags, foam cups and other single-use bags and containers. It also would prohibit local governments from charging a fee for use of the single-use containers.

Livingston said he believes it is better for businesses to have a uniform policy statewide.

“Rather than having a hodge-podge of regulations across the state, it’s just one single regulation so businesses and industry have knowledge of what they are doing in Alabama,” Livingston said.

Senators voted 17-13 to debate the bill, but 18 votes were required to bring up the bill for debate before state budgets are approved.

The bill had opposition from environmental groups and from some of the state’s large cities and coastal communities.

While opposed lawmakers said they knew of no immediate effort to ban plastic bags or cups in Alabama, they said their local communities wanted to retain their decision-making ability.

Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham said the Birmingham City Council opposed the legislation.

“I cannot allow this to happen to my city. They do not want this,” Smitherman said.

Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Daphne, said coastal cities also opposed the legislation.

“We need to still give our local governments the ability to govern locally,” Elliott said. “We don’t need to preclude our local governments from taking actions that they think our best in their particular areas.”

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