In late June, PA Governor Wolf signed a state budget to which the General Assembly added an amendment that blocks municipalities from passing plastic bans. But West Chester became the first municipality to stand up against this legislation by passing a ban anyway — because the plastic crisis can’t wait any longer.
From “West Chester Passes Ban of Single-Use Plastic Bags and Straws,” by Justin Heinze, West Chester Patch, 7/19/10:
WEST CHESTER, PA — Before a packed crowd at borough hall Wednesday night, West Chester made history, voting to become the latest Pennsylvania municipality to pass a ban on single-use plastic bags and straws. It comes as local governments spar with the conservative state legislature that has sought to make such ordinances illegal.
Borough Council approved the ordinance at an exciting and even dramatic hearing! Many thanks to the huge number of citizens who turned out to support the ordinance! Download the text of the ordinance here: https://wcgreenteam.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/plastic-bag-and-straw-ordinance-wc-for-7-17-19.pdf. One change was made: the effective date was moved from January 1 to July 2, 2020 (the day after the reports stipulated by the state government’s would-be delaying action are due). See background and the summary and text in which the General Assembly tried to block the ordinance in our post. “Harrisburg vs. West Chester.” Although Professor Delshad did not get a chance to be among those who spoke at the hearing, we are posting her eloquent prepared statement as one more piece of evidence why the ordinance needed to be passed:
In 2015, 73% of West Chester voters
cast their ballots in favor of our Community Bill of Rights, which
includes the following language:
“We the people of West Chester Borough, Pennsylvania, find that our current system of government fails to recognize our self-governing authority because corporations may assert their “rights” to override our laws; our local government and elected representatives can be preempted by the state or federal government even when our elected representatives act to protect our community’s health, safety, and welfare; and our local government is banned from adopting and enforcing laws that have not been authorized by the state…
WEST CHESTER — Borough shoppers can soon say goodbye to single-use plastic bags.
At Tuesday’s work session, council asked its solicitor to draft an ordinance to forbid distribution of single use plastic bags in stores and shops. Borough Manager Mike Perrone told the audience that a ban is likely.
Although they won’t be able to vote for more than six years, Quaker Leadership Team’s sixth-graders — former West Chester Friends School students — were instrumental in successfully lobbying for the ban. The students met eight to 10 times during the summer.
Council President Diane LeBold was pleased with the student input.
“This gives me hope for the future,” LeBold said.
“Borough council’s unanimous vote to create a transition plan for our businesses and draft an ordinance to ban single-use HDPE plastic bags in the borough is yet another demonstration of West Chester’s environmental leadership in our region,” said Mayor Dianne Herrin. “These bags are simply terrible for the environment, they clog our storm drains, and many end up as part of a monstrous plastic stew in our oceans, destroying wildlife and the very ecosystems on which we all depend for life. They are a temporary convenience we can all do without, and there are better alternatives.”…