Borough Council approved the ordinance at an exciting and even dramatic hearing! Many thanks to the huge number of citizens who turned out to support the ordinance! Download the text of the ordinance here: https://wcgreenteam.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/plastic-bag-and-straw-ordinance-wc-for-7-17-19.pdf. One change was made: the effective date was moved from January 1 to July 2, 2020 (the day after the reports stipulated by the state government’s would-be delaying action are due). See background and the summary and text in which the General Assembly tried to block the ordinance in our post. “Harrisburg vs. West Chester.” Although Professor Delshad did not get a chance to be among those who spoke at the hearing, we are posting her eloquent prepared statement as one more piece of evidence why the ordinance needed to be passed:
In 2015, 73% of West Chester voters cast their ballots in favor of our Community Bill of Rights, which includes the following language:
“We the people of West Chester Borough, Pennsylvania, find that our current system of government fails to recognize our self-governing authority because corporations may assert their “rights” to override our laws; our local government and elected representatives can be preempted by the state or federal government even when our elected representatives act to protect our community’s health, safety, and welfare; and our local government is banned from adopting and enforcing laws that have not been authorized by the state…
“We the people of West Chester Borough, Pennsylvania, hereby declare that our current system of local government is illegitimately limited by the state and that we adopt this law to create a new system of local governance that recognizes our self-governing authority while securing and protecting our rights.”
As a nation, we are behind the rest of the world with 32 countries having already banned single-use plastic bags. Leadership on this issue will not come from the federal level, and PA seems to be moving in the direction of the 13 other states (Idaho, Arizona, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Florida, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas) which have prohibited municipalities from banning plastic bags. Municipalities are the ones leading when it comes to many progressive environmental issues including bag bans. Many eyes are on West Chester at this moment; we are at a critical juncture where we can choose to be leaders, we can choose to defy the corporate interests that snuck this moratorium into the state budget, we can choose to move forward according to the spirit and language in our Community Bill of Rights.
We do not know what will happen after the current one-year state level moratorium on bag bans expires, but if we lead the fight to tell the state legislature this moratorium is unacceptable by enacting our proposed plastic bag and straw ban as it is currently written, we stand a much greater chance of preventing a permanent state level prohibition than if we stand idly by and let this undermine our community’s commitment to progress.