Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124

02/13/2018 08:00 AM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 264 SHOPPING BAG FEES & RECYCLING TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
*+ HJR 30 URGE U.S. SUPPORT OF REFUGEES TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
              HB 264-SHOPPING BAG FEES & RECYCLING                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:03:10 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR PARISH announced that the  first order of business would                                                               
be HOUSE BILL  NO. 264, "An Act relating to  a fee for disposable                                                               
shopping bags;  relating to the  sale of reusable  shopping bags;                                                               
relating  to  the  recycling of  disposable  shopping  bags;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:03:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ANDY  JOSEPHSON,  Alaska  State  Legislature,  as                                                               
prime sponsor,  presented HB 264.   He announced his  staff would                                                               
offer answers to  questions asked at the last hearing  of HB 264,                                                               
on 2/10/18.   He  remarked that the  research into  the questions                                                               
brought to light that there  were more communities seeking to ban                                                               
plastic  bags  than he  had  thought  there  were.   He  said  he                                                               
believes a  ban may be "the  preferred route."  He  said he asked                                                               
Legislative  Legal   and  Research  Services  how   far  out  the                                                               
effective date  could be,  because a  delayed effective  date may                                                               
give communities  more chance to  prepare.  He indicated  that he                                                               
has not yet received an answer.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:05:44 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  restated a  question he  had asked                                                               
on  2/10/18, which  is whether  plastic  bags present  more of  a                                                               
problem than other forms of plastic or Styrofoam trash.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON deferred to Ms. Delaney.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:06:33 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LISA DELANEY, Staff, Representative  Andy Josephson, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  on   behalf  of  Representative   Josephson,  prime                                                               
sponsor of HB 264, said she  has not been able to find statistics                                                               
specific  to   Alaska  but  is   still  seeking  an   answer  for                                                               
Representative Kreiss-Tomkins.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  said the question is  important to                                                               
his  understanding the  impetus  of  HB 264.    He  said he  sees                                                               
Styrofoam as a  greater problem in Southeast Alaska.   He said he                                                               
is interested in solving "the greatest harm."                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON pointed to  the handout in the committee                                                               
packet  of answers  that Ms.  Delaney had  compiled, and  he said                                                               
[plastic bags] are second, after  fishing gear, as attractants to                                                               
fish and birds.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:08:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR PARISH  return to public testimony,  [which had remained                                                               
open after commencing on 2/10/18].                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:09:29 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PATRICIA CUE  testified in support  of HB  264.  She  offered the                                                               
following  information  from   the  Environmental  Working  Group                                                               
regarding  plastic bags:   Americans  use more  than 100  billion                                                               
bags per year; use per person  is more than 300 annually; average                                                               
length of use is 12 minutes; the  expectancy of each bag is up to                                                               
1,000  years;  during  the 2011  International  Coastal  Cleanup,                                                               
volunteers  collected  120,450  pounds  of  bags  in  the  United                                                               
States; in  the ocean bags  break down into  small, plankton-size                                                               
particles  and  can outnumber  plankton  6:1,  and the  particles                                                               
collect toxins  at levels up to  1 million times the  level found                                                               
in  sea water;  marine wildlife  often mistake  plastic bags  for                                                               
food, especially sea turtles hunting  jellyfish; parts of plastic                                                               
bags  have  been  found  blocking   the  breathing  passages  and                                                               
stomachs  of whales,  dolphins, seals,  puffins, and  turtles; 85                                                               
percent of all sea turtles will  be injured or killed by plastic,                                                               
including   endangered  leatherback   turtles   that  summer   in                                                               
Massachusetts Bay;  and 80  percent of  marine debris  comes from                                                               
land-based waste  - there are  five "garbage patches"  [gyres] in                                                               
the Pacific Ocean.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CUE  relayed  that  retail businesses  spend  more  than  $4                                                               
billion annually to  provide plastic bags.  She said  at the time                                                               
the  information  was  published  by  the  Environmental  Working                                                               
Group, nearly  100 cities,  towns, and  counties around  the U.S.                                                               
had banned  plastic bags around  the U.S. -  half of them  in the                                                               
past year.   She said  she supports a  total ban on  plastic bags                                                               
and thinks "Alaska  is capable of moving forward  with this House                                                               
bill."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:13:39 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVID  NEES, Research  Associate, Alaska  Policy Forum,  observed                                                               
that representatives  from large  grocery stores had  not weighed                                                               
in on the issue.  He said in  Alaska there is a preference to use                                                               
local  control over  state government  control.   He acknowledged                                                               
that  many communities  in Alaska  "have,  indeed, enacted  local                                                               
control measures."   He noted that Washington, D.C.,  is the only                                                               
place that  has imposed a fee  on plastic grocery bags.   He said                                                               
there  are three  states that  have banned  their use  but "three                                                               
times as many states that prohibit  the ban on plastic bags."  He                                                               
related that four  states decided that labeling  plastic bags for                                                               
recycling purposes is  "a much more effective way  of having them                                                               
enter the  environment."  He clarified  that the idea is  to keep                                                               
plastic  bags out  of the  environment by  encouraging people  to                                                               
recycle them.  Mr. Nees reiterated  that it is a small percentage                                                               
of the U.S. that has placed fees  on plastic bags.  He added that                                                               
some  localities   have  enacted  the  fee,   including  Boulder,                                                               
Colorado, Brownsville,  Texas, New York, New  York, and Portland,                                                               
Maine.     He  repeated   that  elsewhere   there  are   bans  or                                                               
prohibitions against  bans.   He opined  that recycling  would be                                                               
more effective and "any cost that's  incurred on this is going to                                                               
be  passed on  to  the  consumers, so  it  will  have a  negative                                                               
economic impact on the economy  of Alaska."  He concluded, "We're                                                               
not particularly in  favor of this bill; we'd  prefer a recycling                                                               
program."                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:16:25 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  NEES,  in  response  to  Representative  Saddler,  said  his                                                               
research shows  about 17 states  have either "a  ban or a  ban" -                                                               
most  want a  recycling program.   He  offered his  understanding                                                               
that charging a fee  for a bag is opposed in one  or two states -                                                               
mostly in large cities, such as  New York City, where most people                                                               
walk  to grocery  stores and  need  something in  which to  carry                                                               
their groceries;  in those areas  the use of recyclable  bags and                                                               
the recycling of plastic bags is  encouraged.  He offered to send                                                               
a link from the National  Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)                                                               
outlining this information.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:18:31 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANNEMIEKE POWERS  testified that  she is  a small  business owner                                                               
and engineer, who has worked  for the past 25-plus years cleaning                                                               
up contaminated sites.  She  stated her main concern with plastic                                                               
bags  is  the  long-term  environmental and  economic  impact  of                                                               
pollution.   She said  even when people  properly dispose  of the                                                               
bags, too many of them blow  out of trash bins and landfills and,                                                               
because they are so lightweight,  are easily transported by water                                                               
and wind.  She asked, "Who's  going to clean up the pollution and                                                               
who's going  to pay  for it?"   She  added that  her professional                                                               
experience has shown that "it  is cheaper to prevent pollution at                                                               
the source  than to pay  for cleanup after  the fact," and  a bag                                                               
ban or fee does  just that.  She said in  2016 the World Economic                                                               
Forum predicted that  at current rates of  pollution, the world's                                                               
oceans  would contain  more plastic  by weight  than fish  by the                                                               
year 2050.   She said  this impairment  to the oceans  and fishes                                                               
could have an  economic impact to Alaskans.   She said protecting                                                               
the fishing  industry was  one of  the main  reasons the  City of                                                               
Cordova imposed a bag ban in 2016.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. POWERS said the effect of  plastic bags on the food chains of                                                               
land  mammals has  not  yet  been assessed.    At the  Matanuska-                                                               
Susitna (Mat-Su) Experimental Farm,  plastic bags have been found                                                               
in the stomachs of caribou and  moose.  She said Alaskans rely on                                                               
"the  beauty and  health  of  our land  and  waters for  tourism,                                                               
hunting, and fishing,"  and she said she thinks  Alaska should be                                                               
proactive in protecting these resources.  She continued:                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Since plastic pollution is widespread  and not the sole                                                                    
     responsibility  of any  one  person, incorporation,  or                                                                    
     nation,  most cleanup  costs will  likely  be borne  by                                                                    
     government entities, which means  it will eventually be                                                                    
     paid for  by the tax payers;  that means by you  and by                                                                    
     me.  And  if we don't act, our kids  and grandkids will                                                                    
     bear  any  even  larger cost,  because  this  pollution                                                                    
     problem is  not going to go  away by itself, but  if we                                                                    
     don't  do anything,  it  will only  grow.   Banning  or                                                                    
     imposing  a  fee  on  these  bags  certainly  does  not                                                                    
     eliminate  all  plastic pollution,  but  it  is a  very                                                                    
     simple means  of eliminating  one, widely  used source,                                                                    
     and it's an  easy way to start,  because it's something                                                                    
     that  can be  controlled by  the individual.   I  can't                                                                    
     control how  companies package their  goods, but  I can                                                                    
     control how I carry them from  the store to my car.  My                                                                    
     household  stopped  using  plastic grocery  bags  years                                                                    
     ago, and honestly it has not been a hardship at all.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:21:26 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  POWERS,  in response  to  Representative  Saddler, said  she                                                               
heard from one  woman involved in the plastic bag  ban in Cordova                                                               
that the ban  has been successful.  She said  the plastic bag ban                                                               
passed in Wasilla would not go into effect until July.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:23:09 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KARLA HART  testified in  support of  HB 264.   She said  she has                                                               
traveled extensively  in West Coast communities  before and after                                                               
they  banned  plastic bags,  and  she  has traveled  globally  in                                                               
China,  Russia, Estonia,  Finland,  and Switzerland,  and in  all                                                               
those places it is routine for  people who want a shopping bag to                                                               
pay for a  thicker, reusable one.  She  offered her understanding                                                               
that people don't have an issue  with this routine.  She said the                                                               
framework  for   opposition  from  the  National   Federation  of                                                               
Independent Business  (NFIB) seemed to  be based on  concern that                                                               
store  clerks  would have  difficulty  estimating  how many  bags                                                               
customers  would need,  and she  opined that  is a  weak argument                                                               
indicating  the  NFIB does  not  "have  much against  this  ban,"                                                               
because in  most of  the communities  she has  visited, customers                                                               
decide how many  bags they want to  pay for and how  they want to                                                               
bag their goods.  Ms. Hart  noted that the City of Seattle, whose                                                               
population  she said  she  thinks  is greater  than  that of  the                                                               
entire state of  Alaska, has had a bag ban  in effect since [July                                                               
1, 2012],  and all the  major retailers  in Alaska, such  as Fred                                                               
Meyer and Safeway,  also operate in Seattle and  are already able                                                               
to handle  [the ban].   Ms. Hart  urged the committee  to [impose                                                               
the fee on  plastic bags, as proposed under HB  264], and then to                                                               
"tackle  other plastic  waste that  Representative Kreiss-Tomkins                                                               
mentioned."   She added, "There  are certainly other  things, but                                                               
this is  available; it's  a low-hanging fruit  to start  making a                                                               
change."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:25:37 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SUSIE   HAYES,   Volunteer,   Valley  Community   for   Recycling                                                               
Solutions; Member,  Mat-Su Zero  Waste Committee and  Plastic Bag                                                               
Committee, said she  has lived in Alaska for 30  years and worked                                                               
for  the  Alaska   Department  of  Fish  &   Game  (ADF&G)  until                                                               
retirement two  years ago.   She said  she participated  in local                                                               
spring  cleanups  and  picks  up  trash  whenever  recreating  in                                                               
Alaska.   She said there is  a litter problem in  the state, part                                                               
of which is  plastic.  She said people see  plastic bags in trees                                                               
and  along fences,  but they  don't see  the remnants  of plastic                                                               
bags  that shred  into  small  pieces and  blow  into creeks  and                                                               
rivers and flow into the sea.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. HAYES expressed concern about  "the amount of unnecessary and                                                               
... toxic  waste going  into landfills."   She said  plastic bags                                                               
may be  reused in homes, but  eventually they will take  up space                                                               
in landfills.   She  said there  are over  100,000 people  in her                                                               
borough and growing, and if  additional landfills are built, then                                                               
they will overtake  trails and parkland.  She  opined that single                                                               
use plastic  bags are not  necessary and  there are so  many good                                                               
alternatives.   Cloth  bags  can  be used  for  years and  easily                                                               
washed and air-dried;  paper bags are an alternative  that can be                                                               
repurposed, recycled, and burned.   She said when she has offered                                                               
reusable bags to  people, she has heard people  decline the offer                                                               
because  they say  they already  have reusable  bags -  they just                                                               
need  the encouragement  to use  them.   Ms.  Hayes concluded  by                                                               
asking the committee to listen  to its constituents and construct                                                               
legislation that encourages shoppers to  bring their own bags and                                                               
discourages stores from distributing any free plastic bags.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:28:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JAMES SQUYERS testified  in opposition to HB 264.   He stated, "I                                                               
am appalled  at the seemingly  insatiable desire to  increase the                                                               
size, scope, footprint,  and influence of government.   This is a                                                               
fine  example  of  government  overreach  penalizing  responsible                                                               
members of  society for the  actions of the  irresponsible ones."                                                               
Mr. Squyers  offered his  understanding that  there is  already a                                                               
$100,000 fine established statewide  for littering, which he said                                                               
is evident from all the signs  posted.  He suggested an effort be                                                               
made to  "clean up the state  one litterbug, one junkie,  and one                                                               
totalitarian politician at a time."   He encouraged the committee                                                               
chair to  put the proposed legislation  in a drawer and  leave it                                                               
there.   He remarked on the  number of bills the  legislature had                                                               
introduced with only a 90-day session scheduled.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:30:09 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SQUYERS, in  response to  Representative Saddler,  confirmed                                                               
that  stores  in  Rural  Deltana   issue  plastic  bags,  and  he                                                               
emphasized that those bags fit all  his trash cans at home, thus,                                                               
"everything gets recycled out here."                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:30:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WILLIAM HARRINGTON  opined that it  is "the irresponsible  use by                                                               
the people  who get  these plastic  bags in  the stores  that are                                                               
causing  the problem."   He  said  the City  of Spenard  [plants]                                                               
flowers  for the  tourists  every year,  and at  the  end of  the                                                               
season, those  flowers are  put into  black plastic  bags, loaded                                                               
into a truck, and  taken to the dump.  He said  it seems crazy to                                                               
do that  with organic  material.   He emphasized  that it  is not                                                               
just  store bags  that  are  causing the  problem.    He said  he                                                               
recycles plastic  store bags as  garbage bags, and  he questioned                                                               
who does  not throw his/her  garbage bags  into a plastic  bag of                                                               
some sort  in the  kitchen.   He wished  the committee  good luck                                                               
with "all this."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:32:55 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MICHELLE PUTZ, Member,  Bags for Change, said there  are about 40                                                               
people  in the  group  and about  a  dozen volunteers,  including                                                               
students.   She said  studies show that  plastic is  getting into                                                               
food  sources; toxins  from plastics  are effecting  reproductive                                                               
health in  children and  infants and could  affect the  health of                                                               
fish; plastic,  which is made from  petrochemicals, lasts forever                                                               
in the  environment; plastic bags  can damage and  kill wildlife,                                                               
litter communities,  and increase the  amount of waste  that must                                                               
be shipped  south; and  using sustainable  bags is  a sustainable                                                               
behavior that  is "easy to  choose and  to change."   She relayed                                                               
that she had  spoken with a woman in Sitka  whose boat almost ran                                                               
into  the rocks  when  the  motor sucked  up  a  plastic bag  and                                                               
overheated.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. PUTZ  said Bags for  Change is working to  try to pass  a fee                                                               
that would  pay for tools and  reduce electric rates.   The group                                                               
conducted  a reusable  bag roundup  and  giveaway, as  well as  a                                                               
poster contest  to help people  remember to bring  their reusable                                                               
bags when  shopping.  She said  a fee may help  with reduction of                                                               
plastic  bag use,  because it  would incentivize  behavior change                                                               
and  force customers  to make  a conscious  decision to  purchase                                                               
bags.  She  added that it also  gives people a choice.   She said                                                               
there was  a poll done in  Sitka, and one of  the questions asked                                                               
whether  single  use plastic  bags  should  be "a),  banned;  b),                                                               
provided,  but for  a fee  that would  be used  to support  Sitka                                                               
schools and to  reduce residents' electric costs;  c), handed out                                                               
for  free;  or d),  no  opinion."    She  said the  results  will                                                               
hopefully be  in, in the next  couple weeks.  She  said the group                                                               
also held  an informal  poll on Sitka  Chatters, a  Facebook page                                                               
she  described  as  not  progressive, and  the  results  were  as                                                               
follows:   195 said  take no  action; and  225 said  take action,                                                               
whether a ban or a fee.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS.  PUTZ,  regarding HB  264,  said  she  would like  the  words                                                               
"operate year-round" deleted  from page 4, line 1.   She said she                                                               
thinks whether  or not  a business operates  all year,  it should                                                               
help  pay the  fees.   She opined  that Alaska's  visitors should                                                               
help  pay   the  costs  of  "the   things  that  we  do   in  our                                                               
communities."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:37:46 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR PARISH, after  ascertaining that no one  else who wished                                                               
to testify, closed public testimony on HB 264.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR PARISH announced that HB 264 was held over.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HJR030 ver D 2.6.18.pdf HCRA 2/13/2018 8:00:00 AM
HJR 30
HJR030 Sponsor Statement 2.6.18.pdf HCRA 2/13/2018 8:00:00 AM
HJR 30
HB264 - Opposing Document - NFIB 2.13.18.pdf HCRA 2/13/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 264
HB264 Supporting Document 2.13.18.pdf HCRA 2/13/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 264
HB 264 Opposing Documents 2.13.18.pdf HCRA 2/13/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 264
HJR030 Supporting Document - Gabby Weiss 2.13.18.pdf HCRA 2/13/2018 8:00:00 AM
HJR 30