BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Plastic bag bans won’t ever be coming to Indiana. Governor Mike Pence signed a bill into law that prevents cities and counties from limiting or taxing the use of plastic bags and other containers.
Cities across the country have enacted measures restricting or even taxing plastic bags used by grocery and convenience stores. Supporters of those efforts point to environmental concerns as the rationale behind them.
One group in Bloomington is outraged by the actions of state lawmakers and the governor, because they feel the legislation in Indiana was brought on by their grassroots effort to ban plastic bags.
“This should’ve been a local conversation, which we had started,” said Rebecca Swanson.
Swanson is a member of “Bring Your Bag Bloomington,” a local group looking to cut out single-use plastic bags in the city by a ban, along with a fee imposed on paper bags.
“We were really trying to be thoughtful,” said Libby Gwynn, a co-founder of the group.
Gwynn said the idea was gaining traction in Bloomington. She started the campaign in June of 2014. More recently, city council members were listening, she said, with the city of Bloomington and other groups actively talking about the issue.
Gwynn said it seemed like lawmakers and the governor steamrolled the idea before it ever got off the ground and didn’t allow a local issue to remain local.
“It’s a slap in the face,” she said, “It doesn’t seem fair, and it seems heavy-handed. And it seems like they had better things to do with their time.”
The now-law’s author Representative Ron Bacon admitted the measure was partially brought on by industry groups. He pointed to manufacturing of bags and containers in Indiana, as a reason to prohibit bag bans. He said there could be economic consequences, like job losses.
Bacon said there were other factors at play, however.
“What we’re trying to do is de-regulate what the cities and towns and counties and municipal governments are doing on an individual basis and not have a patchwork of different rules and regulations throughout the whole state of Indiana,” he said.
The reasoning doesn’t fly with Swanson, who believes there’s a larger issue at play than plastic bags. She feels like it’s a state government that’s unwilling to listen to certain ideas.
“If you’re somebody that is glad that we can’t legislate plastic bags, I would say you should be concerned that your state government can swoop in at any time there’s something or rumblings about doing something locally that they want to change or interfere with,” she said.
FOX59 reached out to the office of Indiana Governor Mike Pence for comment, but we did not receive a response.