SC House votes to ban towns from banning plastic bags at businesses

Plastic bags in Surfside Beach (Madeline Montgomery/WPDE)

It's state lawmakers versus town councils as the South Carolina house voted cities and towns cannot ban businesses from using plastic bags.

Surfside Beach Town Council voted unanimously to ban plastic bags from businesses, to try to keep plastic off of the beach and out of the ocean.

"Our ocean, our beautiful ocean! You ever see the debris that washes up over there? It’s killing us people, let’s get it together,” said Maureen McGrath, the owner of Ocean's Edge Salon.

Wednesday, the South Carolina house, including Surfside Beach’s representative, voted to ban the banning of plastic bags.

“The current ordinances that we’ve seen in the state of South Carolina that towns and cities have passed don’t actually address the problem. The problem is plastic bags on the beaches themselves, in our waterways,” said District 106 Representative Russell Fry.

Fry is also against the ordinance because of the cost it creates for business owners having to replace plastic bags with paper ones.

“Not only is this an added penalty on businesses, not only does it over regulate businesses, not only is it a hidden tax on consumers, but it doesn’t actually address the problem,” said Fry.

“I feel that it should be a business owner's choice whether they give paper or plastic. If it’s going to be dictated to us by the town, then they should give us a tax break,” said Robin Partin, the owner of Surfside Shore Decor.

The house's vote does not mean Surfside Beach will have to get rid of its new ordinance.

“Any municipality that already has one of these ordinances in effect, they are grandfathered in essentially and so it will not effect Surfside Beach or any other town that has already done this,” said Fry.

“If this community wants to come together and ban plastic bags, then hurrah for us,” said McGrath.

The ordinance in Surfside Beach won’t go into effect until June.

The South Carolina state senate still has to vote on the ban of banning plastic bags, if they approve the measure it would then go to Governor McMaster's desk for him to sign or veto.

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