HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - As other states work to limit or stop the use of plastic grocery bags, Alabama lawmakers are seeking to stop local governments from banning plastic grocery bags and other single use plastics.
Environmental activists like David Whiteside are wondering why this is a debate.
"We know that there's not public outcry or public demand for this bill. So that raises a lot of questions to our public officials - why is this such a priority?" asked Whiteside.
The bill is being sponsored by House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville). But Whiteside says it isn't happening just in Alabama.
"It's a photographed copy of a bill that's being passed in various states to whatever politician will adopt it and accept the check from industry," said Whiteside.
The proposed legislation is very similar to other laws being pushed across the country by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a non-profit organization that helps create legislation for conservative state legislators.
Supporters of the legislation argue that plastic bags are reusable and that the manufacturing and recycling industry employs nearly 30,000 people. Ledbetter says the bill is intended to protect businesses and to guard against environmental policies he says would hurt the state's economy.
The statement he gave WHNT News 19 reads:
"House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) on Tuesday released the following statement regarding his legislation that would prevent a ban on the use of plastic bags from being implemented in Alabama:
"Alabamians have a rich tradition of hunting, fishing, and other outdoor pastimes, so we strongly support protecting the environment.
This bill is intended to protect businesses and the public from taxes and bans on plastic bags like those that have been implemented in various cities across the country.
Alabama's economy is booming, our unemployment is the lowest in history, and industries are eager to locate here, so we cannot endorse environmental policies that reverse our success.
Allowing cities the option of banning plastic bags would lead to confusion and increase bottom line costs for businesses ranging from big box retailers to small, mom-and-pop operations.
At the same time, we cannot allow the environmental extremists and alarmists who run rampant in places like California to gain a foothold here, in Alabama."
However, larger grocery store chains, like Kroger, are planning to phase out all single-use plastic bags by 2025. A Kroger corporate spokesperson WHNT News 19 that the company is responding to customer and community concerns because they know single use plastic bags create "a huge amount of waste sent to landfills."
But even local grocery stores like Star Super Market have employees who don't agree with the bill.
"I think the plastic is not good for the environment. I think with all the chemicals in it it could be very harmful," said Alexis Heflin, a Star Market employee.
Star Market has no plans to phase out their plastic bags at this time, but they offer paper bags if you ask.
To read the bill you can go here.
The House bill is expected to be discussed in committee Wednesday afternoon. A similar bill floating around in the Senate was approved by committee Tuesday.