On July 3, Mayor Don Gerard met with Governor Quinn in Chicago to explain the City’s opposition to Senate Bill 3442, which would restrict the rights of Home Rule municipalities to limit the use of plastic bags. The Bill is on Governor Quinn’s desk, awaiting action. Quinn may consider an outright veto of the Bill, or an amendatory veto that would remove restrictions on municipal regulation of plastic bags. Mayor Gerard said, “Governor Quinn understands our concerns and I am confident that he will give this serious consideration.”
The Mayor also participated in a press conference with others opposed to the Bill including representatives of Sierra Club Illinois, Environment Illinois, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, and the Chicago Recycling Coalition; Chicago Alderman John Arena; and 12-year old Abby Goldberg of Grayslake, who started an online petition that garnered more than 154,000 signatures in opposition to the Bill.
In March, the Champaign City Council directed staff to investigate options for reducing the use of plastic bags, which are a significant contributor to litter in the community. In that discussion, public input was overwhelmingly in favor of limitations on use. Ten days later, Senate Bill 3442 was amended to explicitly prohibit local governments from taking actions that would reduce the use of plastic bags. In a letter to the Governor, Mayor Gerard maintains that local elected officials are best equipped to determine the City’s course of action regarding plastic bags, as they have with other local solid waste issues.
Although the Bill requires manufacturers participate in a plastic bag and film recycling program, the requirements are very weak. “I don’t believe this recycling program will offer any benefit to our residents, who already have readily available options for recycling plastic bags,” said Mayor Gerard. “The Bill would also take away any other options we have to address this problem at a local level. Our residents should be allowed to engage in a full discussion of this topic, so that the City Council can make a decision that’s right for our community.”
The City has worked with the Illinois Municipal League and other municipalities including the City of Springfield and Village of Oak Park; and groups including Sierra Club Illinois, Illinois Environmental Council, Environment Illinois, and the Illinois Policy Institute; who also oppose this bill.
For more information regarding public input see the City’s survey on plastic and single use bags at http://champaignil.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Plastic-bag-survey-results.pdf or listen to Mayor Gerard discuss the issue on WBEZ Chicago here http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/eight-forty-eight-060812-99928.