Proposed ordinance would overturn ban on plastic bags for yard waste

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled Friday that a bill revamping Louisville’s solid waste management board is constitutional, a loss for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and a win for Republicans in the Kentucky legislature.

The normally obscure, Fischer-appointed board made a sweeping policy change in 2014 when it banned plastic bags for grass, leaves and other yard waste in Jefferson County.

In a unanimous opinion, the Kentucky appeals court’s three judges reversed part of a lower court order and found no part of the bill was unconstitutional.

Gov. Matt Bevin signed House Bill 246 into law in March 2017, altering the makeup and power of the board that oversees Louisville’s recycling and trash collection. Fischer then filed a lawsuit challenging the measure, telling WDRB News at the time it was part of state lawmakers' "attack on Louisville."

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled in late 2017 that the bill could let the board establish new members, but found against portions that gave small cities the ability to opt out of broader, countywide plans for trash and recycling.

Rep. Jerry Miller, R-Louisville, the bill’s main sponsor, said he was pleased that the appeals court "saw that Judge Shepherd’s rationale was totally flawed. This is a victory for small cities in Jefferson County."

Metro government could still take the case to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Fischer’s office planned to review the ruling and did not immediately comment Friday. A message seeking comment also was left with the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, which represents Metro Government.

Miller’s other sponsors included former Democratic Rep. Steve Riggs of Louisville and former GOP Rep. Ken Fleming of Louisville. Like Miller, Fleming was a Louisville Metro Council member before he joined the General Assembly.

Miller had said that a new board would review all of the city’s current regulations, such as a ban on plastic bags for yard waste. The Louisville and Jefferson County Metro Government Waste Management District's board – not the Metro Council – approved the ban in 2014.

That move riled Miller and some Republicans on the Metro Council.

But in an interview Friday, Miller said the General Assembly bill "had more to do with future actions and the ability of the small cities to contract with their own solid waste management providers."

In a shot at Fischer, Miller said the ruling stops the ability of Louisville’s Mayor to "run roughshod over small cities."

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Digital Reporter

Marcus Green joined WDRB News in 2013 after 12 years as a staff writer at the Louisville Courier-Journal. He reports on transportation, development and local and state government.