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More Critical Republican Policy Points



Other than making sure that black people can’t vote, that Democrats can never win, and that women have no control over their own bodies, the major thing binding Republicans together is to hate those hippie Democrats. And thus we have very important policies like this coming out of Michigan.

A new law in Michigan will prohibit local governments from banning, regulating or imposing fees on the use of plastic bags and other containers. You read that correctly: It’s not a ban on plastic bags — it’s a ban on banning plastic bags.

Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley signed the new public act into law on Wednesday, along with 11 other bills. Gov. Rick Snyder is currently on vacation out of state, local news sources reported, and Calley has the authority to sign bills into law in his absence.

The new public act prohibits local ordinances from “regulating the use, disposition, or sale of, prohibiting or restricting, or imposing any fee, charge, or tax on certain containers,” including plastic bags, as well as cups, bottles and other forms of packaging. This means individual cities and municipalities are not allowed to ban plastic bags or charge customers a fee for using them.

Bans and restrictions on the use of plastic bags are widespread in other parts of the country and around the world. The rationale is simple: Plastic bags are infamous non-biodegradable sources of pollution — although they will eventually break down into tiny pieces, scientists believe this process can take hundreds of years, or even up to a millennium, in landfills.

And this of course, plus the tears it will cause environmentalists and conscious consumers, are all the reason Michigan Republicans need. I look forward to the bill for a national ban on banning plastic bags coming out of the GOP House.

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  • NewishLawyer

    The only purpose for laws like this is trolling Ann Arbor and Detroit as far as I can tell.

    • Yeah, pretty much Cleek’s Law as national policy. :/

      I really wish Obama would hurry up and tell Republicans he’s signing an executive order banning people from throwing themselves into wood chippers.

      • Bruce B.

        And the First Lady can warn against the perils of drinking bleach.

    • aturner339

      The funny thing about the caterwauling of real America over how they are being ignored and dispossessed is that they hold disproportionate power at every level of government and they know it. At some points maybe we need to talk about suburban privilege.

      • tsam

        They won’t be happy until they erase anything that doesn’t fit their view of what an American should be. They’re also the whiniest, sniveling crybabies in all of society.

      • DrDick

        But they do not have total domination and people are allowed to disagree with them. That is obviously completely unacceptable.

        • ExpatJK

          Lincoln had their measure, back in the day:

          Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.

          (Cooper Union speech)

      • DAS

        Heller captured the spirit of a Republican in a pitch perfect manner with his description of Maj. Major M. Major’s father.

    • ThrottleJockey

      I confess I have mixed feelings about this law.

      On one hand I really hate these plastic bag bans by the cities. Geez like were they too young to remember carrying in loads of paper bags and how it was a HUGE FUCKING PAIN IN THE ASS that frequently led to dropped bags, torn bags, 19 trips for 5 bags of groceries, broken eggs, and spilled milk…Plastic bags were the greatest fucking invention since sliced bread.

      On the other hand it’s a heavy handed approach.

      Hmmm…it’s hard but I guess I narrowly favor the latter.

      • DocAmazing

        Mind-blowingly weird idea: bring your own bags, made of nylon, polyester, cotton, hemp, or knotted twine mesh–that way, you can be sure to carry your groceries in high-quality, ergonomically-correct bags.

        • muddy

          I have a selection of sizes and handle lengths, it’s great because different items can have something appropriate for their size weight and fragility. After I unload, I just put the bags inside the biggest one and hang it on the door handle. Next time I go to the car I toss it in.

          If I’m on foot the dogs and I all use backpacks.

        • ExpatJK

          Haha, this. Although a possible middle ground is a big fine for plastic bags. I have a massive collection of bags at home, because I would forget them and have to re-purchase them. Having to pay for plastic bags on top of that helped focus my mind.

          • Donalbain

            Here, we have a 5p charge for each bag the proceeds from which must go to charity. The usage of plastic bags from shops has plummetted. It doesn’t often take much to nudge people towards the right behavious.

        • sharonT

          Yes, how hard is it to buy a couple of long handled cloth bags. When DC implemented a plastic bag rule, every Rite Aide, CVS, Safeway, etc. had cloth bags on sale for 99 cents a bag. They’re larger than plastic bags, plus they have flat bottoms, so they’re more stable on the floor of the train.
          Plus, the Anacostia River has fewer bag barges floating down the middle of the river. Nothing but win.

  • Hercules Mulligan

    Republicans believe in local governance, I say with a straight face.

    • Kurzleg

      Beat me to it. It’s of a piece w/ the law passed by Walker and his WI legislature cronies banning municipalities from banning fracking sand operations. Evidently it isn’t legitimate for cities to be able to have a voice in how much large-vehicle traffic uses their roads and the resulting add’l municipal dollars that are required to deal with the wear and tear.

    • DrDick

      They believe in whichever level of governance they dominate and control.

      • ThrottleJockey

        True this. Let California enact environmental laws and they suddenly oppose State Rights because patchwork.

        • fearandloathing

          It’s basically the same belief they have in regards to religious liberty. They believe it only exists to protect the beliefs of right wing Protestants from a secular government. 1st amendment was of course never meant to protect all the “freaks” who aren’t a particular stripe of evangelical of being able to practice their false religions. It goes without saying that only the righteous true Real Americans are entitled to make their own local decisions.

  • A genius move for any state, but especially one that gets revenue from people who enjoy outdoor recreation.

  • leftwingfox

    Since shopping bags have a tendency to wind up in the waterways, I’m cure Canada appreciates the extra plastic winding up in Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. (Ontario also has a plastic bag fee)

  • Nick never Nick

    What’s annoying about dick moves like this (beyond the dickishness) is that they are silly by themselves, and that’s the level they’re discussed at, nationally — but they also constitute pretty robust evidence that Republican policy, and voting, are driven by wide-ranging animus, and not much else.

    Not that that requires more evidence, really — but this is a pretty good demonstration of it. If you meet a guy who likes to kick cats, that’s not the most important thing in the world, but it’s also a strong indicator that there is nasty additional stuff going on.

    • aturner339

      My personal mission this comment-year is to get someone to stop mythologizing the conservative movement as committed to any principle more abstract than dominance.
      I expect to fail. The story of “small local governance” is too ingrained to be contradicted by petty reality.

      • Nick never Nick

        I admire your commitment to futility, it holds a certain pathetic nobility.

      • ExpatJK

        Now, now, I think their other principle is blatant assholery. TWO PRINCIPLES!!

        • CDWard

          “Among our principles are such things as dominance, blatant assholery, and an almost fanatical devotion to the…I’ll come in again.”

    • (((Malaclypse)))

      It’s rolling coal as public policy.

  • science_goy

    I assume their next move will be to enact mandatory minimum plastic bags.

    • ThresherK (KadeKo)

      “I’m sorry, sir, but you’re going to have to double-bag those apples. State law.”

      • Ramon A. Clef

        Double-bag each apple, individually.

        • The Lorax

          Each bag requires its own bag.

    • Nick never Nick

      That, or require that all plastic bags contain a minimum concentration of PCBs.

    • ThrottleJockey

      Next: A Constitutional Right to Carry plastic bags.

    • fearandloathing

      It will be to require that warning labels be removed from them about asphyxiation dangers and that all cities that have ever banned plastic bags now have to build public parks devoted solely to encouraging children to play with them and put them over their head as reparations for their past bag banning crimes against humanity.

      I mean, if they’re not too busy trying to get lawn darts back in the stores.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Is there any good reason to elect Governors and Lt. Governors separately, rather than on a ticket?

    • N__B

      The faint hope of a palace coup?

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      Hatred of the 12th Amendment?

    • ASV

      Michigan does elect them together on a ticket.

  • Gwen

    I was just thinking about how conservatives these days really believe in nothing (aside from blaming liberals and feminists for all their problems).

    • Nick never Nick

      Modern conservatism is what you get when one side decisively loses an argument, but can’t deal with that fact.

      • DAS

        Modern conservatism is what you get when one side decisively loses an argument, but can’t deal with that fact. continues to dominate state and federal politics because of rural over-representation


        • Nick never Nick

          I still maintain we’re both correct

          In fairness, my comment is looking at the attitudes of individual Republican voters (microassholeology) whereas yours is looking at structural issues (macroassholeology)

          • DAS

            Microassholeology vs. Macroassholeology? I love it, and will steal it when the occasion arises!

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Our legislature in Oklahoma has passed an endless stream of laws banning localities from doing a variety of things. I do think there’s a consistent ideology here beyond trolling liberals. Contemporary conservatism likes concentrating and consolidating power. This is much easier to do at the state and federal level than at the local level. So taking control away from localities makes sense to them.

    • science_goy

      What’s funny is that they never seem to imagine this backfiring in any way. Maybe Oklahoma is reliably red, but — for example — North Carolina won’t be run by the GOP for much longer (rigged elections or not). Do they really want to establish a strong precedent for pre-emption?

      Then again, in that eventuality I guess they could always yell and scream about “government overreach” and get Dems to back down, so maybe it’s not as stupid a strategy as it looks.

      • Kurzleg

        Then again, in that eventuality I guess they could always yell and scream about “government overreach” and get Dems to back down, so maybe it’s not as stupid a strategy as it looks.

        Not to get too far off topic, but McConnell’s mere threat to level accusations of partisanship if the Russia hacks were announced was enough to prevent Obama from taking action pre-election. So yeah, it works.

        • DAS

          And now GOP commentators complain “if Obama knew something about the hacking, why didn’t he do something sooner?”.

          Of course, if Obama did something sooner, and McConnell made good on his threat, the Dems could have lost NY or NJ or CT when all the “reasonable”, “moderate” “liberals” who have undue influence in states where a lot of FIRE sector workers live would have decided they couldn’t vote Democratic because “the Democrats are too partisan”.

    • Kurzleg

      You forgot implementing corporate agendas as a contributing motivation.

    • DrDick

      However, that only works if you have large majorities, which the GOP does not. In practical terms, it is much easier to gain control over smaller entities, which is why they used to be all about devolution. Now, owing to the dominance of state legislatures which that produced, they have guaranteed themselves dominance of state governments through gerrymandering and voter suppression measures.

    • fearandloathing

      If you want to stretch things, I suppose you could say that the principle here is “No government, at any level, should interfere with free consumer choice. So if a city says you can’t use plastic bags or puts a tax on them then the higher level of government must overrule them to restore liberty” or some such crap. Of course, even that doesn’t explain, why it’s only selective hippie environmental & safety “interferences” in consumer choice that attract their ire. I don’t see any Republican legislature that insist that localities that want to regulate alcohol sales, adult establishments etc. are hereby overruled in the name of the right of every individual consumer to make up their own mind regardless of what 80% of the good church going citizens of Smalltown, AL say.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      In Kansas, the mostly rural counties hate the few urban areas and will go out of their way to screw them whenever possible, even if it makes no sense. And, with the exception of Lawrence, they’re basically screwing over other Republicans.

      I think the rural vs non-rural dynamic is at least as strong as the conservative vs. liberal one. Seems to be a sense in rural areas that they’re the only “real” Americans and everybody else is an immoral person unless proven otherwise.

  • Woodrowfan

    Back when the Teahadists had one of their first big Nuremberg rallies in DC some visitors became (even more) enraged when clerks charged then a nickle for a plastic bag. It’s a DC law designed to cut down on the plastic bags, and it has cut down on the amount found in the Potomac and Anacostia. One story I remember was in a deli where the Teaite threw his food back at the woman at the register.

  • Gwen

    Austin, Texas has a bag ban. It can be sort of annoying. Especially because I invariably forget to bring reusable bags and have to pay a quarter for paper ones.

    With that said, it’s not like this somehow reduces consumer choice. You could always bring your own bag before. And stores usually only had plastic bags before as well (rendering “paper or plastic” a moot question).

    I think what makes people hate bag bans is the notion that they are being burdened with some trivial amount of responsibility to prevent landfills from overflowing and to stop birds and turtles from choking to death. (If they are even aware of the reasons).

    Please do not ask the Party of Personal Responsibility to have an environmental ethic, thank you very much.

    • Gwen

      Also if you’re shopping at Wal-Mart as I often do, the choking seagull is probably the least serious thing on your conscience.

    • DAS

      The annoying (and futile) thing about bag bans, for my family at least, is that we reuse all of our plastic bags for garbage and such. If there were a plastic bag ban, it would not effect the plastic bag usage of our family in the least bit: we would end up purchasing garbage bags for this purpose.

      Of course, we usually use reusable bags until we need more plastic bags at which time we don’t bring our bags and get the reusable bags.


      Also, a complete ban on plastic bags may run into religious freedom issues: some kosher markets are so strict they don’t want you bringing in your own bags (what if you are not strictly kosher enough?). I guess a bag charge wouldn’t violate the religious freedom issue: you can expect someone to pay more for exercising peculiar religious practices (e.g. kosher meat costs more than non-kosher meat). But an outright ban may be problematic.

      • Simple Desultory Philip

        afaik, plastic bag bans do indeed reduce the overall amount plastic going to landfills and polluting the environment because not everybody reuses them. there are also trash bags which are compostable, which single-use plastic bags from grocery/department stores almost never are, sot the choice between “reuse plastic single-use bags” and “buy nonbiodegradable trash bags” is a false dichotomy. may i suggest that using paper or reuseable bags for your groceries/etc and purchasing biodegradable trash bags is both an option and a more environmentally friendly one at that? here in california we just passed a statewide ban, so i guess we’ll let everybody know how it goes constitutionally.

      • Donalbain

        Do kosher laws require the use of plastic? If not, then no problem. They can’t use plastic, but they can use paper, or hemp, or cloth…

  • veleda_k

    Why am I still surprised at the pettiness of of Republicans? No, really. I always think I’ve realized the extent of it; I always think I’ve reached the appropriate level of cynicism. And then something like this happens, and I’m still somehow surprised.

    • Simple Desultory Philip

      same here. at some point you’d think the constant cutting off their noses to spite their faces would catch up with them but they just go on gleefully disfiguring everybody in sight because fuck those libtards, amirite?????

      • In the country of the anosmic, the no-nosed man is king is sure his shit don’t stink.

  • Jackson87

    The plastic bag lobby is more powerful than I ever knew.

    • Gwen

      I wonder if the fossil fuel industry has anything to do with it, since plastics come from oil.

      • Kurzleg

        That’s my guess. And needless to say, that lobby I’m sure is additionally pissed off by having to pay extra for the bag. So they’re getting hit both on sales and when they personally shop.

    • trollhattan

      They spent a metric buttload of money in California last year for two ballot measures–one to overturn a statewide ban and another to snatch the 10-cent bag fee from retailers. Both failed but it seems they’re now taking preemptive ALEC-like steps elsewhere.

      • Simple Desultory Philip

        those two initiatives were super sneaky. one was actually the full ban (not an attempt to overturn one, we didn’t have a state ban before), which you would think would be an odd thing for the bag lobby to fund – but the catch is that the *other* initiative was one that would give the bag fee to “environmental causes” and there was a clause in the second law that would have disallowed the full ban from going into effect if both passed and the second law got more votes than the first. the thinking was that lots of people would vote for both because hey, if the ban doesn’t pass it would be good to give the $$ to the environment, and some people wouldn’t support a full ban but would support the environmental $$, so the bag ban would ultimately fail. thankfully the voters here managed to parse it, but it was incredibly confusing. thankfully most of our large papers (l.a. times, s.f. chronicle, etc) spelled this out in their endorsements, which i’m sure helped.

    • RW Force

      It’s a standardized ALEC bill making the rounds of susceptible legislatures. We passed it here in Idaho even though no local cities had even tried to institute a ban. Koch Industries produces a lot of plastic feed stocks in case you were wondering.

  • LWA

    If its true that every idea begins as a movement, grows into a business, then ends as a racket, I think conservatism has reached that corrupt end stage.
    They really don’t have any ideas or want anything in particular, other than lining the pockets of their benefactors and sticking it to their enemies in pointless ways.

    Which I think gives us an opening. Banning plastic bag bans and something something “Merry Christmas” gives the GOP base voters a warm and fuzzy feeling but I believe that will be small comfort once they lose their health care coverage and the fabled jobs never materialize.

    “Hows that Trumpey-Changey thing workin’ out for ya?” is something I plan on saying quite a lot for the next few years.

  • Yankee

    Talk to me again about big and small government? I suppose what we need is a national law banning state governments from banning cities from banning objectionable stuff. Next time we have a unified Progressive thing going.

    • Simple Desultory Philip


  • BlueLoom

    Ha! Here in The Great Commonwealth of Vahginyah, we (along with 38 other states) don’t have to wait for the legislature to ban us from banning. As Dillon Rule (sometimes written as Dillon’s Rule) states, we can’t do a damn thing that the legislature doesn’t specifically permit us to do. Pain in the butt for localities.

    Source: National League of Cities, http://www.nlc.org/build-skills-and-networks/resources/cities-101/city-powers/local-government-authority

  • Mart

    The law makes perfect sense. The Koch brothers owned Dart Container is headquartered in Michigan. Dark makes plastic cups, plates, foam plates, foam cups, and related. Why wouldn’t the Koch brothers reps pass a law like that?

  • Lexisaurus

    This was all a gratuitous kick at Washtenaw County (Ann Arbor), which passed a 10-cent tax on plastic grocery bags. Ann Arbor’s state rep, Jeff Irwin, pointed out that this is similar to the 10-cent bottle deposit that has been very successful in reducing litter, but Repubs only favor local control when they control the locality in question. The incoming state rep, Yousef Rabhi, actually sponsored the bag legislation as a county commissioner, so he’s facing a difficult climate in Lansing.

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