Another state has officially banned plastic bag bans—yes, you read that correctly. It is now illegal for local governments in Michigan to enact ordinances that ban or place fees on plastic bags or disposable containers used by stores and restaurants.
One-time usage, plastic bags are a major cause of plastic pollution. Flickr
The bill was signed Wednesday afternoon by Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, as Gov. Rick Snyder is out of the state for the holidays.
Other states that have banned local plastic bag ordinances include Wisconsin, Idaho, Florida and Arizona.
As MLive.com noted, Michigan's new mandate affects Washtenaw County, which wanted to start charging 10 cents for paper and plastic grocery bags in 2017.
Michigan House Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, spoke against the bill on the House floor.
"This is a bill that attacks local control," he said.
Jennifer Rigterink of the Michigan Municipal League, which opposed the bill, agreed.
"So, if it's important to a community to look at plastic bags or containers and how that's affecting their community they kind of have their hands tied now and aren't able to do anything about it," Rigterink said during an interview with Michigan Radio.
Washtenaw County Commissioner Jennifer Eyer added that the law "[puts] the priorities of business over the concerns about the environment, and doing what's good for the environment."
6 Plastic Bag Bans Making a Huge Difference https://t.co/vQvL1nWS5H @greenpeaceusa @Greenpeace @GreenpeaceUK @PlasticPollutes @acousteau— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1470331456.0
Despite the opposition, the Republican-sponsored bill passed 52-46 in the House and 25-12 in the Senate. Both chambers are controlled by the GOP. The approved law takes effect in 90 days.
The bill was supported by the Michigan Restaurant Association, which believes that local bans creates a burdensome patchwork of bag laws for retailers.
"With many of our members owning and operating locations across the state, preventing a patchwork approach of additional regulations is imperative to avoid added complexities as it related to day-to-day business operations," Robert O'Meara, the association's vice president of Government Affairs, told MLive.com.
In a post for EcoWatch last year, environmental advocate Laura Turner Seydel warned that outside forces are behind these bans on plastic bag bans.
"Powerful and large special interest lobbying groups are behind these 'ban bans' as well as litigation aimed at already existing bans," she wrote. "Outside interests are funding these efforts to dissuade and dismantle local level legislation. Primary among them is the Progressive Bag Affiliates, funded by the largest plastic bag manufacturers in the country and the American Chemistry Council."
Find Out Who's Behind Banning Plastic Bag Bans http://t.co/l4vQ05aXdO @Plastic_Bag_Ban @SaveOurShores— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1445119829.0
Turner Seydel noted in her post that Americans go through an estimated 100 billion plastic bags annually and at least 12 million barrels of oil are used per year to manufacture them. These one-time-use items are notorious for killing wildlife and polluting our environment.
Still, a number counties and even entire countries are putting their concern for the environment before their convenience and have banned these non-biodegradable menaces.
This past November, California became the first state to impose a statewide plastic bag ban despite heavy opposition from bag makers working with the American Legislative Exchange Council that tried to pass statewide bans on local bag bans.
How California Became America’s First State to Ban Plastic Bags https://t.co/XL2ICijwpE @Plastic_Bag_Ban @5gyres— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1481683510.0
And, in September, France became the first country to ban plastic silverware, plates and cups.
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By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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