From WILL - News Headlines -

Champaign Mayor Lobbies Governor on Plastic Bag Bill

The mayor of Champaign was part of a group that met in Chicago Tuesday with Gov. Pat Quinn --- asking him to veto a plastic bag recycling bill.

The measure (Senate Bill 3442) requires businesses that use plastic bags and plastic wrap to participate in a statewide recycling program. But it also bars home rule communities from setting up their own, stricter, rules --- like a ban or fee which the Champaign City Council is considering. Champaign Mayor Don Gerard said he doesn't see why the bill has to limit the role of local governments.

"In other municipalities around the country, they have done these exact same kind of bills," he said. "Only now, coincidentally, ours has a little caveat that we can't impose fees or bans or have our own ordinances; that they take away our home-rule authority and give the power to the State. I don't need another state program in Champaign."

But the bill's sponsor, State Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan), said the ban on local rules is so businesses won't be confused about the requirements for plastic bags and wrap throughout the state.

"These stores, like a Target, everybody wants a Target to come into their community," Link said. "Well, they want to know what rules they're playing by in those communities. So, if you do a statewide standard, they know the rules they're playing in all these areas."

The clause in Link's bill barring cities from making their own rules on plastic bags was added just days after the Champaign City Council voted to look at proposals for taxing or banning the bags at local stores. The bill passed during the final days of the spring legislative session, and has been sent to the governor.

Besides Mayor Gerard, the group opposed to the bill that met with Governor Quinn included 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 gathered more than 154,000 signatures against the bill in an online petition drive.

(Photo courtesy of Champaign Mayor Don Gerard)