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Attorney general’s office says Bisbee plastic bag ban violates Arizona law

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

PHOENIX — A Bisbee city ban on plastic bags and small fee for recyclable bags both violated state law, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office said Tuesday.

The attorney general’s office found that Bisbee’s ordinance violated the state’s regulation on auxiliary containers law, which stated cities or towns may not regulate the use of bags or impose a tax, fee or other charge to get a bag.

“Regardless of policy arguments for why the bag ban exists, the city of Bisbee does not have the authority to ignore state law and reach its policy goal by illegally imposing regulatory mandates on private citizens and businesses,” Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in an email.

The southern Arizona city’s ordinance placed an outright ban on single-use plastic bags and mandated a fee of at least 5 cents for recyclable paper bags. Bisbee said it passed the ordinance to help control its waste management costs and to improve the look of the city.

Businesses that did not comply could be fined as much as $500 per violation.

The city argued that its ordinance should stand because it was a local issue, but the attorney general’s office disagreed.

The ruling said the city would not violate state law if it enacted voluntary programs to encourage people to use recyclable bags. It also said businesses are not forced to use plastic bags.

A similar ordinance passed by Tempe also violated state law. A city councilwoman sued to overturn the ruling but the courts upheld it.

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