According to a report in the Associated Press, Philadelphia and three other municipalities in Pennsylvania are suing the state over what they say was an abuse of legislative power to block local bans or taxes on plastic bags that retailers give out to customers.

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Unlike New York, Pennsylvania does not have state-wide restrictions on the use and distribution of single-use plastic shopping bags.

The lawsuit filed March 3 asks a statewide court to declare the block unconstitutional. The other plaintiffs are West Chester, Narberth and Lower Merion Township.

Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News
Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News

City officials, backed by environmental advocacy organizations, say the state’s blocking of their bag ban violates environmental rights in Pennsylvania’s constitution, and procedures used to pass it violate constitutional transparency protections. Meanwhile, they say their cities and towns suffer health, environmental, aesthetic and financial implications of plastic bag litter and pollution.

New York’s plastic bag ban went unenforced for several months last year in the beginning days of the pandemic but now is in full effect. Only plastic produce and pharmacy bags and for food takeout are permitted. Any business that collects state sales tax is not allowed to provide one-use plastic shopping bags.  The law went into effect March 1 of last year in New York but only started to be enforced in October.

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