I’m pretty sure that by the time you read this, Gov. Tom Wolf will have vetoed the plastic bag law just passed in the Pennsylvania Legislature. The timing is tricky for my deadline purposes, but StateImpact Pennsylvania (the public radio collaboration between WHYY and Harrisburg’s WITF, and definitely not fake news, thank you) told me he was likely to veto the bill, which would have prevented local municipalities in our fine commonwealth from enacting any “ban, fee, surcharge or tax” on plastic bags at point of sale.
If the timing is tricky, the politics are more so, because HB1071 got final passage in the State Senate June 14 with — get this — bipartisan support. Not only did some Democrats vote for it, some Republicans voted against it. This happened for the most conventional of reasons, which is something of a relief in our crazy public world: Local legislators worrying about constituent interests. There are factories in Pennsylvania that employ Pennsylvanians to make plastic bags. There are also bags fouling expensive recycling machinery, not to mention stuck in trees and drains, all over the state.
Democracy in action, baby.
Wolf had said all along that he opposed the bill, which, by the way, addresses a problem that doesn't exist: No Pennsylvania municipality has a bag fee or tax. (Mayor Jim Kenney has proposed one and plans to propose another.) The margin in both houses of the General Assembly indicates that Wolf’s veto will stand, but as a Democratic governor in a Republican state, he had to be careful about, well, pissing people off even if they couldn't override him.
Meanwhile, there’s nothing keeping businesses from taking their own steps to fight the bag, from not giving them out at all (like the Co-op) to charging for them (like Save-A-Lot) or giving a rebate to shoppers who bring their own (like Whole Foods).
Speaking of which, GM Jon Roesser, in his column, explains how the Co-op is committing to take steps to make our business sustainable, even if our fine federal government is not. And as longtime activist Betsy Teutsch avers in her book report: We can do this.