Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124

04/04/2019 08:00 AM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 81 PROHIBIT PLASTIC RETAIL BAGS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Invited Testimony <Time Limit> --
*+ HB 60 REPEALING SENIOR BENEFITS PAYMENT PROGRAM TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Invited/Public Testimony <Time Limit> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
               HB 81-PROHIBIT PLASTIC RETAIL BAGS                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:02:56 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND announced  that  the first  order of  business                                                               
would  be  HOUSE BILL  NO.  81,  "An Act  prohibiting  disposable                                                               
plastic shopping bags; and providing for an effective date."                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:03:38 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ANDY  JOSEPHSON,  Alaska  State  Legislature,  as                                                               
prime  sponsor,  introduced HB  81.    He said  this  legislation                                                               
originally was  filed in January  2018; it was modified  and made                                                               
it through two committees last year.   He said the impetus for HB                                                               
81  is the  scourge  of plastic  bags.   He  related  there is  a                                                               
plastic  bag  in  a  tree  across the  street  from  the  Capitol                                                               
Building that  has been there  for a couple  years now.   He said                                                               
some may  ask the reason  for "picking  on this industry  and not                                                               
others,"  and he  opined, "We  have  to have  a starting  place."                                                               
Representative   Josephson  said   that  "this   is  a   national                                                               
movement."    He  said  that  when  the  committee  hears  public                                                               
testimony,  it would  hear from  people all  over the  state that                                                               
"are willing to be inconvenienced  for our environment."  He said                                                               
[plastic refuse] does  not only have a  [negative] visual impact;                                                               
it also impacts waterways and wildlife.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:05:55 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ELISE  SORUM-BIRK, Staff,  Representative Andy  Josephson, Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  gave a PowerPoint presentation  related to HB                                                               
81 on  behalf of Representative  Josephson, primer sponsor.   She                                                               
directed  attention to  slide 2,  "Motivations,"  and she  stated                                                               
that   plastics  do   not   belong  in   nature.     She   echoed                                                               
Representative  Josephson's remark  that  plastic  is harmful  to                                                               
wildlife and  the marine environment.   She said there  have been                                                               
multiple news stories  in the last month related  to whales dying                                                               
as  a  result of  ingesting  massive  amounts  of plastics.    In                                                               
Alaska, there has been at least  one recorded death of a Northern                                                               
fur seal resulting from entanglement.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SORUM-BIRK shared  that she  used to  be an  early childhood                                                               
educator working in  an outdoor summer program.  She  said she is                                                               
aware that  the National  Oceanic and  Atmospheric Administration                                                               
(NOAA)  has a  curriculum completely  based around  marine debris                                                               
and  plastic issues;  it's called,  "Lose the  Loop."   She said,                                                               
"It's a huge issue for this  national agency."  She stated that a                                                               
plastic bag  ban is "a  small but significant step  in addressing                                                               
the global plastics problem and  the issue of single-use plastics                                                               
in general."                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:07:33 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SORUM-BIRK  directed  attention  to slide  3,  "Why  Plastic                                                               
Bags?"   She noted  that the sponsor  of the bill  is shown  in a                                                               
photo  looking unpleased  at  having found  a  plastic bag  while                                                               
kayaking.  As  shown on the slide, she related  that plastic bags                                                               
are  "a major  plastic  offender" because  they are  lightweight,                                                               
thus  they transport  easily in  wind and  water.   She said  new                                                               
habits   are  necessary   and  have   already  been   adopted  by                                                               
communities worldwide.  Ms. Sorum-Birk  turned to slide 4, titled                                                               
"Plastic  Bags  in the  Environment,"  which  displays a  diagram                                                               
depicting  how  plastic  interacts   with  the  ecosystem.    She                                                               
explained that [persistent]  organic pollutants (POPs) accumulate                                                               
in  fatty tissue  and [toxins  increase in  concentration up  the                                                               
food  chain].   She  said  that makes  her  think  of salmon  and                                                               
whales,  both of  which are  depended upon  as food  resources by                                                               
subsistence communities.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. SORUM-BIRK  moved on  to slide  5, titled "Why  a Ban?"   She                                                               
said in  last year's related  legislation, a fee for  plastic bag                                                               
use was  proposed.  She said  bans are more common.   She related                                                               
that  stores are  already subsidizing  for  the cost  of bags  by                                                               
charging  more for  goods purchased,  with an  estimated cost  of                                                               
$25-$50 per  person each year.   She pointed out the  photo(s) of                                                               
the aforementioned bag  in the tree across the  street.  Focusing                                                               
on slide  6, titled "International  Policy Trends,"  she reported                                                               
that there  are more than  40 countries  that have a  plastic bag                                                               
ban,  and that  number continues  to  rise:   Bangladesh was  the                                                               
first in 2002; Kenya has the  strictest ban.  She said a reporter                                                               
in  The Guardian  wrote that  this  ban has  sparked interest  in                                                             
neighboring countries, and "the  once ubiquitous issue of plastic                                                               
bag  litter is  in decline  in Kenya."   She  said there  is less                                                               
litter and fewer fishermen pulling  up plastic bags in their nets                                                               
on Lake Victoria.  She said the  bottom of slide 6 shows the many                                                               
[countries] that  will enact  plastic bags  in 2018,  2019, 2020,                                                               
and 2021.  She noted that  the European Union has gone further by                                                               
banning  many single-use  plastic items;  that ban  will go  into                                                               
effect in 2021.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. SORUM-BIRK turned  to slide 7, titled "Policy  Trends - Lower                                                               
49."   She said  California was  the first  state to  ban plastic                                                               
bags; this  past week New York  became the second state  to fully                                                               
ban  plastic bags;  and all  the municipalities  in Hawai'i  have                                                               
banned plastic  bags although there  is no statewide law  to that                                                               
effect.   She noted that the  slide shows other states  that have                                                               
municipalities  within  them  that  have  banned  bags,  and  she                                                               
observed that Alaska should have been included on that list.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:11:15 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. SORUM-BIRK moved on to slide  8, titled "Alaska."  She stated                                                               
that  in Alaska  17  communities no  longer  allow plastic  bags;                                                               
Denali Borough  and the City  of Homer are considering  a plastic                                                               
bag ban;  Homer has "gone back  and forth for several  years" but                                                               
will have the  issue on its ballot this year.   She reported that                                                               
Anchorage has  a [plastic]  bag ban  in place  that will  go into                                                               
effect in  September 2019.   She noted that those  communities on                                                               
slide 8  that are listed  with an asterisk  next to the  name are                                                               
communities that  "voluntarily stopped using plastic  bags out of                                                               
concern for environmental health."                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SORUM-BIRK  directed  attention  to  slide  9,  titled  "The                                                               
Resource(ful) State."   For example,  some people  have crocheted                                                               
plastic bags  into new, reusable plastic  bags.  Not on  the list                                                               
is "Boomerang  Bags" - a  national movement to make,  provide, or                                                               
share  reusable  bags.    Another movement  is  called,  "Take  a                                                               
Bag/Leave a Bag," where people  donate their bags, which then get                                                               
sterilized  and put  out at  stores for  use by  people who  have                                                               
neglected to  bring their  own bags.   She  shared that  her alma                                                               
mater, Valdez High School, has a  club that makes bags out of old                                                               
tee shirts.   She said,  "So, these creative solutions  show that                                                               
you  can reuse  materials and  get to  the root  of how  a carbon                                                               
footprint can be reduced ...."                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. SORUM-BIRK turned to slide  10, titled "Ruminant Ingestion of                                                               
Plastic."   She stated that this  issue was a big  motivation for                                                               
the  ban  of plastic  bags  in  the Matanuska-Susitna  ("Mat-Su")                                                               
Valley.   She said the  slide illustrates that the  problem [with                                                               
plastic bags]  is not just a  coastal problem.  She  talked about                                                               
caribou that have  had a hole cut in their  sides and plastic was                                                               
found in  the digestive tracts  of these caribou.   She indicated                                                               
that Carol  Montgomery would  testify later  and talk  about this                                                               
subject.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:13:48 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. SORUM-BIRK  proceeded to slide  11, titled "Section 1."   She                                                               
said  the proposed  legislation would  add  a new  section to  AS                                                               
46.06.    AS 46.06.145(a)  would  establish  a ban  on  retailers                                                               
[providing  disposable  plastic   shopping  bags  to  customers];                                                               
[subsection](b)  would   provide  exceptions  to  the   bag  ban,                                                               
including bags  that hold produce  and meat, newspaper  bags, and                                                               
bags for  flowers; [subsection](c) would establish  fines of $250                                                               
for the first violation, $500  for the second violation, and $750                                                               
for each additional violation -  these would be within a calendar                                                               
year; [subsection](e)  would provide definitions  for "disposable                                                               
[plastic]  shopping bag,"  "retail seller,"  and "reusable  bag."                                                               
She  said it  is important  to note  that a  reusable bag  can be                                                               
plastic, as  long as  it is  at least  4 mils  in thickness.   As                                                               
shown on  slide 12, Ms. Sorum-Birk  stated that Section 2  of the                                                               
proposed legislation  would provide an effective  date of January                                                               
[1], 2021, which  would give retailers the time to  adapt and use                                                               
up the stock of plastic bags they already have.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:15:18 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN  questioned  why  the  state  should  take                                                               
action when  it seems an  increasing number of  local communities                                                               
are taking action on their own to ban plastic bags.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SORUM-BIRK answered  that many  communities  in Alaska  lack                                                               
municipal government  because they  are not incorporated,  and HB                                                               
81 could benefit  those communities.  In response  to a follow-up                                                               
question, she  reiterated that the effective  date proposed under                                                               
HB 81  should allow retailers to  use up their existing  stock of                                                               
plastic bags before the ban takes effect.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:16:47 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON noted  that when he was  young, paper bag                                                               
use was  frowned upon because the  use of paper bags  meant trees                                                               
were being  cut down, and the  use of plastic bags  back then was                                                               
encouraged.   Now things have  turned around.  He  indicated that                                                               
he was  confused as to how,  under HB 81, allowed  and nonallowed                                                               
use would be separated.  He  further indicated that after the ban                                                               
is  in place,  people who  [reuse] existing  plastic bags  may be                                                               
fined.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:18:08 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON speculated  that "the difference between                                                               
the types of bags is so  readily apparent that it won't become an                                                               
issue."                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. SORUM-BIRK  advised that HB 81  clearly outlines [disposable]                                                               
plastic  shopping  bags and  lists  exceptions  [to the  proposed                                                               
prohibition].   She said the  use of paper  [bags] is "in  no way                                                               
environmentally benign," and  many municipalities nationwide have                                                               
imposed  fees  on the  use  of  paper  bags.   Nevertheless,  she                                                               
pointed out that paper bags are biodegradable.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:19:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND opened invited testimony.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:19:57 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CAROL  MONTGOMERY,  Mat-Su  Zero   Waste  Coalition  Plastic  Bag                                                               
Committee, reported that a student  visiting the recycling center                                                               
talked  about   having  seen  Dr.   Collins,  of   the  Matanuska                                                               
Experiment  Farm,  pull plastic  bags  out  of a  research  moose                                                               
fitted with  a fistula.  Ms.  Montgomery said she then  talked to                                                               
Dr. Collins, who told her he  had lost a couple of caribou before                                                               
figuring out "what was going on."   She said one time Dr. Collins                                                               
pulled a  wedge of  plastic bags as  big as a  football out  of a                                                               
caribou.    She  said  a  video was  taken  showing  Dr.  Collins                                                               
removing  plastic from  the stomach  of a  moose.   She said  the                                                               
coalition  found out  that  the Williams  Reindeer  Farm and  the                                                               
Agate Inn  have lost  many reindeer  as a  result of  plastic bag                                                               
obstruction.    She  said those  were  deaths  confirmed  through                                                               
necropsy.   She pointed out that  it is rare for  wild animals to                                                               
necropsied,  because   it  is  an   expensive  procedure.     Ms.                                                               
Montgomery  said she  called Kimberly  Beckman, a  [veterinarian]                                                               
for the Alaska  Department of Fish & Game  (ADF&G), in Fairbanks,                                                               
and she  confirmed a musk  ox calf  had asphyxiated on  a plastic                                                               
bag and a  turtle from the Alaska SeaLife Center  [in Seward] had                                                               
died from plastic bag consumption.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. MONTGOMERY  said the coalition started  outreach to community                                                               
groups to spread awareness "about  what was going on," and people                                                               
were  receptive  to learning  about  the  issue.   The  coalition                                                               
approached the  Rotary Club and  Chamber of Commerce,  and people                                                               
donated money, which  the coalition used to run  some radio spots                                                               
and buy [reusable] bags to be  handed out in grocery stores.  She                                                               
said Mayor  Bert Cottle took on  the issue in Wasilla,  where the                                                               
public  testimony  was overwhelmingly  in  favor:    47 to  1  in                                                               
written testimony,  2 to  1 in  public testimony, and  5 to  1 by                                                               
vote of  the city  council.   She reported  that Channel  11 News                                                               
conducted  a survey  that showed  "75  percent were  in favor  of                                                               
extending the bag  ban to Anchorage."  She said  [the plastic bag                                                               
ban] in  Wasilla has been in  effect almost a year  and in Palmer                                                               
three  months,  and already  the  area  is cleaner;  a  windstorm                                                               
currently  in  effect has  resulted  in  far fewer  plastic  bags                                                               
"stuck"  in parking  lots  of  grocery stores.    She noted  that                                                               
tourists who rode the Alaska  Railroad used to complain about the                                                               
amount of  trash, but that  area is  "already much better."   Ms.                                                               
Montgomery emphasized  the bottom  line is  that [adjusting  to a                                                               
plastic ban] is "no big deal."                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:24:05 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  asked for  definition of  fistula, as  used in                                                               
ruminants.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MONTGOMERY  answered  that  it  is a  devise  [that  can  be                                                               
implanted in the  side of ruminates] that allows for  a person to                                                               
reach in to [the rumen] and  extract its contents.  She indicated                                                               
that many  reindeer on farms  have died because "they  don't have                                                               
that option."   She  said the  owners of  Agate Inn,  in Wasilla,                                                               
reported  one of  their reindeer  suffered a  heart attack  after                                                               
consuming  plastic  bags;   there  were  so  many   bags  in  the                                                               
reindeer's rumen that  they put pressure on his heart.   She said                                                               
reindeer  forage  for food  by  pawing  the ground,  and  despite                                                               
efforts  to  keep the  area  clean,  the reindeer  still  consume                                                               
plastic bags.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:25:52 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
EVE DOWNING,  Alaska Youth Environmental Action,  stated that the                                                               
plastic bag ban in Soldotna,  Alaska, has positively impacted her                                                               
community.  She said most  community members have gotten into the                                                               
habit of bringing reusable bags to  the store when they shop, and                                                               
many of them  have said they just needed "a  push" to remember to                                                               
bring reusable bags.   She said there are no  longer plastic bags                                                               
floating through  the streets  or getting caught  in trees.   She                                                               
said  she is  always surprised  to visit  communities that  still                                                               
allow plastic bags,  because such bags are "a tool  of the past."                                                               
She said her community caters to  tourism, and plastic bags are a                                                               
detriment  to  the  beauty  of Soldotna.    She  said  single-use                                                               
plastic  bags are  detrimental to  the  wildlife surrounding  her                                                               
community; many  animals have died  from consuming  plastic bags.                                                               
She  stated  that  fishing  is   also  an  important  economy  of                                                               
Soldotna,  but when  single-use plastic  bags float  into streams                                                               
and other waterways,  they are consumed by fish  and other marine                                                               
creatures, which can block the  digestive tracks of those animals                                                               
and cause  them to starve to  death.  She indicated  that plastic                                                               
consumed by salmon,  for example, can end up  consumed by humans.                                                               
She opined  that banning [plastic]  bags is a step  toward "being                                                               
conscious of  the impact that  we have on the  environment around                                                               
us, as  well as a step  toward a sustainable future  for Alaska."                                                               
Ms.  Downing concluded  by  expressing  support for  HB  81.   In                                                               
response  to Co-Chair  Drummond, she  confirmed that  the plastic                                                               
bag ban to which she had referred applies only to Soldotna.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:29:07 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND announced that HB 81 was held over.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB081ver A.PDF HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81
HB081- Sponsor Statement 3.19.19.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81
HB081- Sectional Analysis 3.19.19.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81
HB081 Fiscal Note - DEC.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81
HB081 Supporting Document- Letter of Support Alcanna Inc 03.26.19.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81
HB081- Supporting Document- Alaska Dispatch News- Cordova Ban 3.19.19.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81
HB081- Supporting Document - The Washington Post- Dead Whale 3.19.19.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81
HB081-Supporting Document- Forbes- US Cities to Ban Plastic Bags 3.19.19.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81
HB081- Supporting Document- UN Ocean Conference- Marine Pollution Facts 3.19.19.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81
HB081- Supporting Document- The New York Times- Sea of Trash 3.19.19.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81
HB081- Supporting Document- Petition from AYEA 3.19.19.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81
HB081- Supporting Document- Peninsula Clarion- Habit Change 3.19.19.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81
HB081- Supporting Document- NPR- Plastic Contaminating Seafood 3.19.19.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81
HB081- Supporting Document- NOAA- Marine Debris 3.19.19.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81
HB081- Supporting Document- Marine Pollution Bulletin- Plastic and Plankton in North Pacific 3.19.19.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81
HB060 Version A.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 60
HB060 Sponsor Statement (Transmittal Letter).pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 60
HB060 Fiscal Note DHSS-PAFS 2.20.19.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 60
HB060 Fiscal Note DHSS-SBPP 2.20.19.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 60
HB060 Senior Benefit Program Fact Sheet 2019.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 60
HB060 Senior Benefits Enrollment and Amounts by Benefit Tier December 2018.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 60
AARP Senior Benefits Fact Sheet.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 60
Background Documents - Senior Benefits HB236 Support 2017.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 236
HB060 Senior Benefits Demographics by census area.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 60
HB081 Supporting Document- Presentation 4.3.19.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81
HB060 Opposition Letters.pdf HCRA 4/4/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 60