OKLAHOMA CITY – “I want to make sure I make it easy for industry to do business in Oklahoma.”
That’s why Governor Kevin Stitt says he signed Senate Bill 1001 into law on Tuesday.
The piece of legislation prohibits municipalities from banning or putting a tax on auxiliary containers made of materials such as cloth paper, cardboard, aluminum, glass and yes, plastic.
The bill was pushed through the House and Senate after Norman announced plans to put a 5 cent tax on single use plastic bags.
“They are not good for the environment. They blow all over the place. The plastic bags do a lot of damage to the equipment and that gonna drive up the cost of recycling,” said Lynne Miller, current Norman Mayor.
Miller says the money raised from the bag tax would have gone to educate Normanites on the dangers they pose to the environment, but both sides say it’s about more than just plastic bags.
“I just don’t think that we should be putting laws and rules on business from 500 municipalities,”said Stitt.
“This prevents a patchwork of regulatory all over the state,” said Mike Jackson, Executive VP of Government & Political Affairs for the State Chamber of Oklahoma.
The State Chamber supports the new law, saying it’s about business efficiency and choice for the customer.
“If they want to have a plastic straw or they want a plastic bag to help carry their groceries at the retail level, we want to make sure that businesses have that capability in our state,” said Jackson.
Opponents of the law say it steps on the toes of local governments.
“It takes away the rights we believe cities should have. There is always a lot of talk about the federal government staying out of the states business and to some extent the municipalities feel the same way,” said Miller.
The Governor says if there needs to be changes to plastic laws there are ways already in place to do that.
“I believe in city flexibility. We are all for that, but you have to have some kind of uniformity of how you do business from city to city and county to county throughout our state. If there is anything in the future that needs to change as far as a state law in Oklahoma, we can change it through the legislature,” said Stitt.