A bill pre-empting cities and counties from prohibiting or regulating paper or plastic carryout bags and other single-use plastic items advanced to the House floor on Friday.


It comes during a time when several Kansas cities are weighing solutions to reduce plastic bag use and is a policy that would diminish, yet again, the ability of locally elected officials to make decisions they deem best for the community they serve.


We oppose this bill because of its infringement on local control.


The state should not impose broad, blanket policies that eliminate the decision-making power of locally elected city and county officials.


We value the men and women serving in local government for their flexibility, community connections and nonpartisan approaches. As the elected officials serving closest to the people, they’re deemed to have the best pulse on the needs of the community and their ability to meet those needs should not be impeded by state-level policies that limit their authority.


The state Legislature doesn’t like it when DC-politicians tie their hands; they shouldn’t pass pre-emption laws that effectively do the same to local government leaders.


In this instance, several Kansas communities have spent months in dialogue with community citizens through local committees discussing how best to reduce the use of single-use plastic. In Wichita, the city council voted unanimously to create a task force to examine the issue.


It was reported the task force would include advocates for the reduction of plastic bag use and business leaders who would be impacted by the change. Plans are underway to begin a discussion about how policy changes impacting single-use plastic bags could cost businesses and the city if a bag ordinance were adopted. This is the kind of collaboration we want used in policy-making.


But if the state passes the proposed pre-emption bill, the task force has no reason to meet. The decision would no longer be something local government could address. You won’t have a local solution reached by a broad coalition of community members who came together to find common ground and an outcome that works best for their region.


Pre-emption laws erode local governments ability to engage in a broad range of regulatory activity and public interest policy. In Kansas, pre-emption laws already limit local governments from enacting paid family leave, minimum wage or ride-sharing policies. Only the state can make determinations about these issues.


We’re against the addition of laws passed by the state Legislature that enable only the state Legislature, not local governments, to make policy for the Kansans they represent.


A government for the people, by the people, is best served by ensuring those serving in our cities have all the tools available to meet their constituents needs.