Rieger Report®: The Ugly State of Plastic Bag Politics

As of May 5, 2019 blue and red states have very different outcomes in the regulation of single use plastic bags and other pollutants such as Styrofoam. As a budding tree hugger I look at the dichotomy of the first several state actions without surprise but with candid disappointment. Three states leaning Democratic have led the charge on enacting laws that attempt to reduce our exposure to plastic and or Styrofoam. Two more have legislation in progress. Then we have three red states that have enacted legislation that outright prohibits local communities from regulating single use plastic.

States to watch:

  • New Jersey S2776 Plastic bag bill has not yet been passed (Democratic legislature) Democratic Governor Phil Murphy.
  • Maryland HB109/SB285 April 2019 Passed bill banning Styrofoam container use beginning 7/2020. (Democratic legislature) Awaits Republican Governor Larry Hogan signing/veto.

States that have enacted laws:

  • 5/2019: Maine becomes first state to ban Styrofoam. Law begins Jan 2021 (Democratic legislature) Signed by Democratic Governor Janet Mills.
  • 4/2019: New York becomes second state to ban one-time plastic bag use (Democratic legislature) Signed by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo. Bans single use plastic bags with exceptions and begins March 2020.
  • 11/2016: California becomes first state to ban one-time use plastic bags began in 2016. (Democratic legislature) Signed by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown.
  • A special call out for Hawaii. Hawaii doesn’t need to enact legislation as all of its counties have regulations in place limiting single use plastic bags.

WTF happened in these three red states? Powerful lobbyists at play such as the American Progressive Bag Alliance? Concern over prospect of confusing local regulations?

  • 4/2019: North Dakota 2019 HB 1200 (Republican legislature) Signed by Republican Governor Doug Burgum. Prohibits a political subdivision from regulating an auxiliary container and defines auxiliary containers to include plastic bags & plastic food containers.
  • 4/2019: Oklahoma 2019 SB 1001 (Republican legislature) Signed by Republican Governor Kevin Stitt. Preempts local governments from regulating, taxing, or restricting the sale or use of an “auxiliary container” such as plastic bags, plastic water bottles or disposable food containers.
  • 10/2017: North Carolina enacts 2017 HB 56 (Republican legislature) overriding Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s veto.  Law effectively repealed an eight year ban of use of plastic bags by retailers on the Outer Banks.


I do my best to be as accurate as possible. Please report errors or additions to this information to JR@riegerreport.com.

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