Georgia Senate votes to prohibit cities from banning plastic bags

Plastic bag lovers, rejoice: the Peach State is no California.

The Georgia Senate on Thursday voted to prohibit cities and towns from banning plastic bags, saying it would be too expensive and “confusing” for local retailers to worry about.

Passage of Senate Bill 139 comes as the issue has gained ground in Georgia, with officials in Athens and the coastal Tybee Island having already discussed local bans because of environmental concerns. Sea turtles and other marine animals often eat the bags because they resemble jelly fish — a hazard because they can choke on the bags and suffocate.

Other concerns are over litter, and the petrochemicals used in making the bags.

California in September became the first state to enact a ban on single-use plastic bags for similar reasons, although opponents of the ban have asked to have a statewide vote on the issue. In Hawaii, there is no statewide ban but all the state’s counties have approved plastic bag bans. And bans are in place in cities across the U.S., including Chicago, Seattle and Austin, Texas.

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The 32-19 vote here has enraged environmentalists, who are calling SB 139 the “plastic bags everywhere” bill.

They say the issue should be a local decision.

With passage, SB 139 now goes to the state House for consideration.

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