Editorial: Legislature, stop imposing your will on our local governments

A while back, we ran a story with the headline, "Is it time to toss plastic bags for good?" It was about a Kingman Clean City Commission discussion on whether the city should institute a ban on plastic shopping bags, as other locales have done.

Nothing much came of it, and for now, at least, nothing will - because the Arizona Legislature, in a short-sighted betrayal of what are supposed to be conservative principles, told local governments they're not allowed to enact such a ban.

They're not alone. Florida, Texas and Missouri have either done something similar or are trying to, according to the Associated Press, and Arizona also has prohibited local governments from increasing the minimum wage or enacting taxes or regulations on firearms.

To be fair, I think the firearms one is a good idea, since people travel with their guns. But the others are matters of local control - something Republicans are supposed to champion.

It's right there in the national GOP platform: "We pledge to restore the proper balance between the federal government and the governments closest to, and most reflective of, the American people." (Substitute "state" for "federal," and you can see how out of line the Legislature is.) 

A couple of lobbyist groups - the Arizona Retailers Association and the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance - backed the ban on bans. Tim McCabe, head of the AFMA, said this, according to AP: The statewide ban on plastic bag bans is good for customers because they won't be confused by different rules in different cities.

That's right, folks: A lobbyist thinks you're too stupid to figure out how to get your groceries home.

State Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills and a supporter of this overreach, had this to say: "We really don't need [a bag ban] in Arizona because we don't have the crisis in landfills and litter that other areas do."

Perhaps Fountain Hills is a litter-free paradise, but Kingman isn't. Neither is the Pacific Ocean, which is filling up with plastic garbage. 

I'm like a lot of people. I have reusable bags, but I frequently forget to take them with me. The plastic bags I do bring home are either reused (it's a constant task picking up after two big dogs) or recycled. 

Still, these cheap plastic bags are a convenience we really should do without. A ban might not be the answer. Something incentive-based, such as charging a fee at the store if you don't bring you own bag, could be a better approach.

I'm fine with either idea - but that's something we, as a community, should decide for ourselves.