Shankland: give local governments ability to ban plastic bags

Metro Wire Staff

Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) has introduced several bills she believes will protect natural resources while committing to continuing to work on clean water legislation.

Assembly Bill 177 would restore local control, allowing local leaders to create plastic bag bans and regulate other kinds of containers like polystyrene. The legislation repeals 2015 Wisconsin Act 302, which barred local governments in Wisconsin from enacting or enforcing ordinances that regulate, prohibit, restrict, or impose fees on the use of “auxiliary containers,” including plastic bags.

On Monday, she also introduced LRB 0294, legislation to create the Wisconsin Renewable Energy Development Authority (WREDA), an independent public entity modeled after other state authorities that is tasked with steering and expanding investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency in our state. The WREDA would oversee a loan program, a grant program, and an equity financing program to promote significant investment while providing technical assistance to stakeholders in renewable energy in our state.

“Earth Day is a state of mind, not a day on the calendar. One of my greatest priorities in the legislature is to protect our natural resources, from clean water to renewable energy,” Shankland said in a press release. “I’m reaffirming my commitment to working on and passing clean water legislation like Assembly Bill 21, my bipartisan bill to create a first of its kind state private well testing program and dramatically expand funding for homeowners to remediate their contaminated wells.”

Shankland said “dozens” of sustainability-conscious communities throughout the country have enacted bans on plastic bags to decrease trash and litter and conserve fossil fuels, and she blames Republican legislators removing the option for local governments in Wisconsin while Stevens Point was considering it.

“It’s time to give decision-making back to our local governments and restore their ability to enact the ordinances that are best for their communities and for our natural resources,” she said.

Stevens Point has not formally voted on a plastic bag ban, but in 2016 Mayor Mike Wiza did ask residents to stop using them during a “Ban the Bag” campaign for one month.

Earth Day is April 22.

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