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Louisville Files Lawsuit Over State Law Targeting Plastic Bag Ban


Louisville’s Waste Management District has filed a lawsuitover a bill approved during this year’s Kentucky General Assembly that reduces a local governing board's power and, by extension, could roll back the city's ban on plastic bags for yard waste.

The bill — House Bill 246 — was signed by Governor Matt Bevin last week. It abolishes and reforms the Solid Waste Management Board, which oversees garbage and recycling countywide.

Under the new law, the new board will include more representation from small cities and waste haulers. It will also require any of the board’s waste management policies to be approved by the governing bodies of the county’s more than 80 small cities before going into effect in those jurisdictions.

The bill’s opponents — including Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer — argued it would be unworkable, creating a patchwork of different waste management laws across the county. In jeopardy are current laws like a countywide ban on plastic bags for yard waste.

Earlier this month, Fischer called on Bevin to veto the legislation.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Franklin Circuit Court. In a press release announcing the lawsuit, Metro government notes the lawsuit is a last resort after lawmakers didn’t include several compromise provisions that would have made the law more agreeable to the city.

The lawsuit claims the bill violates the state constitution by only targeting Louisville, and that the purpose of the legislation is solely political.

"We believe this would roll back decades of consistent policies for waste management in our city," said Chris Poynter, a spokesman for the mayor.

The bill was enacted with an emergency clause, which means it took effect immediately. Poynter said the lawsuit is seeking an immediate injunction.

The lawsuit names several parties, including the Jefferson County League of Cities, all 83 of the county's small cities and the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet. Energy and Environment spokesman John Mura said the cabinet had been neutral on the initial legislation, and declined comment. A call to Jefferson County League of Cities president and Jeffersontown Mayor Bill Dieruf wasn't returned Monday afternoon.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.