LANSING — Following Earth Day earlier this week, yesterday, state Rep. Robert Wittenberg (D-Huntington Woods) introduced House Bill 4500 to repeal Public Act 389 of 2016, which prohibits local governments from regulating, taxing or banning retail plastic bags and other auxiliary containers. If passed, the bill would restore local control and allow municipal governments to once again enact their own rules regarding plastic bags and other items that pose a serious threat to Michigan’s environment.

“Each year, millions of plastic bags end up in our lakes and sewer systems, contaminating our water and killing scores of our fish and wildlife in the process,” Wittenberg said. “Not only does this litter detract from our state’s natural beauty, it puts our families’ health and well-being at risk — whether it be from drinking water tainted by plastic or financial hardship due to the jobs lost in our tourism industry. Giving municipalities the freedom to address dangers in their communities the way they best see fit protects our environment, economy and the public health at the same time.”

PA 389 was enacted in 2016 in response to Washtenaw County preparing to enact a 10-cent fee on plastic and paper grocery bags, a policy that sought to incentivize grocery shoppers to transition toward environmentally-friendly reusable bags. Since PA 389 was enacted, state law prevents communities from enacting such fees. The Rochester Institute of Technology found that 22 million pounds of plastic flow into the Great Lakes annually. A 2015 study estimates plastic clean-up efforts for the Great Lakes would cost $486 million every year.