The House of Delegates passed a bill Tuesday that would prevent any municipal or county government from banning the use of certain utensils or food and drink containers based on what they’re made of.
No city or county in West Virginia has passed any measures banning the use of plastic straws, utensils or other food or drink containers, but they have been discussed, said Delegate Brandon Steele, R-Raleigh, one of the co-sponsors of House Bill 2500.
The goal of HB 2500 is to prevent any local government from banning such items in the way that other cities, including Seattle and San Francisco, have since 2018, Steele said. Having seen other cities pass such ordinances was part of the motivation for the bill, he said.
“Seeing it happen obviously is quite concerning,” Steele said Tuesday afternoon. “The vast majority of constituents I spoke with are against any type of micromanagement by a town council and interference in their everyday life.”
The House adopted HB 2500 Tuesday morning by a margin of 79-19 with two members absent.
If the bill becomes law, no local government would be able to restrict the use of, or establish any tax or fee on, any “auxiliary container,” whether it’s single-use or reusable.
Auxiliary containers are defined as a “bag, cup, bottle or other packaging” that’s designed to contain food or beverages purchased from a retail or food service facility and is made of cloth, paper, plastic, cardboard, corrugated material, aluminum, glass, post-consumer recycled material, or similar material.
Under questioning from Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, Steele said the law wouldn’t affect county and municipal recycling programs, saying the bill doesn’t prohibit such programs in any way.
Pushkin and Steele also reiterated no local government in the state had adopted such a measure.
“This is another solution in search of a problem,” Pushkin said during debate Tuesday. “I don’t know why we’re doing this.”
House Bill 2500 will advance to the Senate.