Republican Bill Would Ban Local Control of “Doggy Bags”

January 13, 2016

Shopping Bag

More than a dozen powerful special interests are behind a Republican bill that would prohibit communities from banning takeout containers, plastic bags, and other containers and packaging, including coffee cup insulating sleeves.

One of the authors of the measure, Republican Sen. Roger Roth, of Appleton, says communities that ban the use or sale of cardboard, plastic, cloth or paper containers used to transport or protect food or other merchandise are “creating obstacles for consumers, manufacturers of these recyclable products and the local small businesses that utilize these items.”

The measure has already drawn support from some of the State Capitol’s most influential lobbying groups, chiefly, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the state’s largest business organization whose membership alone covers more than a dozen special interests, including business, manufacturing, natural resources, tourism, construction. Other backers of the bill include the Wisconsin Paper Council, Wisconsin Restaurant Association, Wisconsin Grocers Association, and the Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association.

Overall, special interests represented by WMC and other trade groups that support the container-ban bill contributed $11.2 million between January 2011 and June 2015 to current Republican lawmakers, who control the legislature by a comfortable margin.

In addition to Roth, the container-ban measure is also sponsored by Sen. Frank Lasee, of De Pere, and GOP Reps. Mike Rohrkaste, of Neenah, and Tyler Vorpagel, of Plymouth.

More than half of the large individual and political action committee contributions raised by the bill’s four sponsors between January 2011 and June 2015 came from WMC-represented special interests.

Roth raised $266,105, or 65 percent, of his campaign cash between January 2011 and June 2015 from special interests whose trade groups back the bill.

Lasee raised $173,451, or 77 percent, of his campaign cash between January 2011 and June 2015 from special interests whose trade groups back the bill.

Rohrkaste raised $24,600, or 70 percent, of his campaign cash between January 2011 and June 2015 from special interests whose trade groups back the bill.

Vorpagel raised $13,272, or 53 percent, of his campaign cash between January 2011 and June 2015 from special interests whose trade groups back the bill.