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Oklahoma Preemptively Blocks Local Plastic Bag Regulations

With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Kevin Stitt has ensured that cities and counties in Oklahoma will not be allowed to regulate plastic bags and auxiliary containers.

By Mack Burke

With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Kevin Stitt has ensured that cities and counties in Oklahoma will not be allowed to regulate plastic bags and auxiliary containers.

Against the hopes and pleadings of Mayor-elect Breea Clark, Stitt signed Senate Bill 1001 Tuesday, effectively ending her push to fight the persistent pollutants at the local level.

"It's a shame that Gov. Stitt would mark his 100 days in office by signing a bill that epitomizes government overreach and continues the trend of preemption that is crippling municipal government in Oklahoma," Clark said. "I was hopeful he was serious about valuing local control, but his signature has proven me wrong."

The signing of the bill, which was opposed by the entire Norman legislative delegation, received a largely positive reaction from House and Senate Republicans who supported the bill as a means to curb regulation. It was one of 20 Senate bills Stitt signed Tuesday.

"Since day one I have said I will work to make Oklahoma one of the most business friendly states in the country," Stitt said. "I signed Senate Bill 1001 in order to ensure there is consistency across the state for businesses and commerce, which will help in the efforts to recruit and retain companies and grow Oklahoma."

The State Chamber of Oklahoma, led by president and CEO Fred Morgan, released a statement in support of the signing Tuesday. Despite opposition from environmental groups and some legislators, Morgan said Stitt made the right call in signing the bill, which was drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

"Allowing municipalities, counties, or political subdivisions to enact their own [rules] creates a regulatory patchwork while driving up costs -- costs that customers will ultimately be forced to pay."

Sen. James Leewright brought forth the bill after the failure of a similar bill last year. Clark believes he did so in direct response to Norman's exploration of ways to curtail the proliferation of plastic bags.

Leewright has not responded to multiple requests for comment from The Transcript.

(c)2019 The Norman Transcript (Norman, Okla.)

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