PROVIDENCE (AP) — Rhode Island's Senate president said Thursday that he has introduced a bill to ban single-use plastic bags at checkout counters statewide.

Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, of North Providence, said plastic pollution is dangerous to the ocean and marine life and contributes to climate change. Fourteen communities, including Westerly, have already enacted similar policies to encourage the use of recyclable bags, and that approach should be consistent throughout the state, Ruggerio added.

The Plastic Waste Reduction Act would prohibit retail establishments from making single-use plastic bags or non-recyclable paper bags available, and provide for penalties for violators. It would take effect one year after regulations are issued, or on Jan. 1, 2022, whichever is sooner.

The Senate passed a bill in June to ban single-use plastic bags, but the effort stalled in the House.

The plastic bag ban is one of the first major pieces of legislation Ruggerio has introduced in the new legislative session, which began Tuesday. He's also co-sponsoring bills to ban 3D-printed guns and so-called ghost guns that are untraceable; to require Senate approval for education commissioners; and to impose limits on regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries.

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