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Gov. DeWine expected to sign bill banning plastic bag bans due to COVID-19

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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine plans to sign House Bill 242, which will stop any city from banning plastic bags, according to his press secretary. (WSYX/WTTE)

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine plans to sign House Bill 242, which will stop any city from banning plastic bags, according to his press secretary.

The bill would put a one-year pause on local regulations on single-use plastics.

The city of Bexley lifted it's ban at the start of the pandemic to limit the use of reusable bags being brought into stores, and now, it's likely to stay that way much longer than city leaders had planned.

Bexley is one of the Ohio cities which has spent years working to lessen the use of plastic bags and other single-use plastics.

"This is something that is happening anyway in our communities. Plastic bags are being phased out," Bexley City Councilmember Troy Markham said.

House Bill 242 would put a one-year moratorium on regulation regarding use of single-use plastic containers.

DeWine's Press Secretary, Dan Tierney said the reason is COVID-19 and the chance of the virus spreading from touchable surfaces.

The CDC's website states that while it may be possible to get the virus from touching a surface or object, that has the virus on it, before touching your face, it's not the main way the virus spreads.

Markham said this violates home rule.

"I think we are disappointed that he would take this action. I guess I would hope that the governor would be open to working with us in the future as we move forward with this, and not impede our ability to enact legislation like this, which is so beneficial to the environment, and not only beneficial to the environment, but this is something that is happening anyway in our communities," Markham said.

Bexley first phased out single-use plastics at city events, and then in January, the city implemented a ban of plastic bags in stores, boosting the use of reusable bags.

"It was something that we worked hand-in-hand with Giant Eagle, with CVS, with our commercial partners, they are very much on board with this," Markham said.

When the pandemic hit, the city lifted the ban to lessen the use of reusable bags, but had and still has intentions of putting it back in place. The only thing standing in the way is this bill.

"There's a chance that we may mount a legal challenge to that, because we believe that that does violate our home rule authority, the ability of our citizens to govern themselves on a local issue like that," Markham said.

DeWine has been a strong supporter of home rule in the past, but Tierney said when it comes to health and safety measures lawmakers can supersede that home rule, and in this case the governor is on board.

He's planning to sign House Bill 242. Details on when he is planning to sign it is expected to come later this week.

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