Veto of Plastic Bag Bill Pleases Champaign Mayor
By Jim Meadows
When Gov. Pat Quinn announced Sunday that he was vetoing a plastic bag recycling bill, his news release quoted the mayor of Champaign.
The vetoed bill (SB 3442) would have barred home-rule cities like Champaign from regulating plastic shopping bags. Mayor Don Gerard said it should be his city’s choice to do so, if the council decides. He called the proposed ban on his city’s authority to regulate plastic bags “a travesty”.
“It’s more big government," Gerard said of the recycling proposal. “It’s a state-ride program. We don’t know what it’s going to cost. Our tax dollars will be going for it. And it takes away our ability to choose.”
Gerard also contends that the recycling program would have been ineffective. He said it was similar to programs that were rejected in California and Austin, Texas.
The plastic bag recycling bill had backers in the business and agriculture sectors. The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association both expressed disappointment with the governor’s veto. They argued that the recycling program would have diverted hundreds of tons of plastic waste of landfills, and avoided new taxes or bans.
That is exactly what the city of Champaign is considering. Last March, the Champaign City Council directed staff to come back with proposals such as a use tax or outright ban on plastic bags.
The city’s recycling coordinator, Angela Adams, said those plans could be ready for council consideration in the next few months. But she said there may be also an effort to override the governor’s veto of the plastic bag bill in the legislature’s fall veto session.