Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124


Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as
Download Video part 1. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
08:02:33 AM Start
08:04:00 AM Presentation(s): Community Service Block Grant Program, Department of Commerce, Community & Economic Development
08:26:28 AM HB32
08:33:48 AM HB81
09:40:18 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Presentation: Community Service Block Grant TELECONFERENCED
Program by Dept. of Commerce, Community, &
Economic Development
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
Moved HB 32 Out of Committee
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invited/Public> --
-- <Time Limit May Be Set> --
               HB 81-PROHIBIT PLASTIC RETAIL BAGS                                                                           
8:33:48 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HANNAN announced that the  final order of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE BILL  NO. 81,  "An Act  prohibiting disposable  plastic                                                               
shopping bags; and providing for an effective date."                                                                            
8:34:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HANNAN opened public testimony on HB 81.                                                                               
8:34:49 AM                                                                                                                    
MICHELLE PUTZ, Leader,  Bags for Change, testified  in support of                                                               
HB  81.   She  said  plastics are  getting  into  food and  being                                                               
ingested by  humans.   The toxins in  plastics affect  the health                                                               
and reproductive  systems of  humans and  could be  affecting the                                                               
health of  fish.  She  stated that  plastics last forever  in the                                                               
environment; plastic  bags in  particular litter  communities and                                                               
"are very hard on ... marine  life."  She reported that 2 million                                                               
[plastic] bags are  given away annually at  [Sitka's] two grocery                                                               
stores alone and cost stores  and consumers over $100,000 a year.                                                               
Ms. Putz  said a poll was  taken in Sitka asking  whether single-                                                               
use plastic  bags should be  "banned, provided  - but for  a fee,                                                               
handed out for free, or 'no  opinion.'"  She relayed that over 70                                                               
percent  of shoppers  polled randomly  at Sitka's  grocery stores                                                               
agreed that  something should be  done - either banning  the bags                                                               
or charging a fee for them.   She relayed that in a more informal                                                               
poll on a more conservative site,  225 people were  in support of                                                               
taking action regarding bags and  195 supported taking no action.                                                               
Ms. Putz said some argue  that people recycle their plastic bags;                                                               
however,  she countered  that only  1 percent  of "the  bags" get                                                               
recycled, and it costs money to recycle.                                                                                        
8:37:15 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  responded that  she finds  it shocking  that 2                                                               
million bags are  being given away [annually]  at Sitka's grocery                                                               
stores alone.                                                                                                                   
MS. PUTZ  noted that was  "a quick  estimate" made by  [the store                                                               
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND  estimated  that  amounts to  2,700  bags  per                                                               
day/per store, if those stores operate 365 days a year.                                                                         
8:37:52 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JACKSON  asked if  Bags for Change  has approached                                                               
the Sitka Assembly to ask for  change as 17 communities in Alaska                                                               
MS.  PUTZ  answered yes,  the  group  brought  the issue  to  the                                                               
assembly  last  year  as  an ordinance,  which  passed  on  first                                                               
reading.     She  explained   that  "opposition   came  forward";                                                               
therefore, Bags for  Change asked the assembly to  "back off last                                                               
year"  and "put  it on  hold."   This year  the group  is in  the                                                               
process of doing  a citizen ballot initiative and  has just begun                                                               
gathering  signatures to  put a  plastic bag  ban on  the ballot,                                                               
along with a  fee on paper bags and a  provision that would allow                                                               
the assembly to ticket stores that do not "follow the rule."                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JACKSON  asked  if   there  is  enough  community                                                               
support in Sitka to "get this ban."                                                                                             
MS. PUTZ answered yes.   She offered her perspective that support                                                               
[for a  ban] seems to be  growing in the community,  and Bags for                                                               
Change is "ready to take on this challenge."                                                                                    
8:39:39 AM                                                                                                                    
SYDNEY PAULINO said she was  representing herself and her mother,                                                               
who could not testify  today.  She stated support of  HB 81.  She                                                               
opined that "we owe it to  our environment and our communities to                                                               
take this  trash out  of our  oceans and off  our beaches."   She                                                               
stated one reason  is that much of Alaska's  revenue results from                                                               
the beauty  of the state,  and, if  polluted, "it will  no longer                                                               
have that kind of effect."                                                                                                      
8:40:33 AM                                                                                                                    
LISBETH  JACKSON noted  that  she  had not  seen  a  copy of  the                                                               
proposed  legislation but  supports banning  plastic bags  across                                                               
Alaska.   She said  plastic bags  are harmful.   She  offered her                                                               
understanding that HB  81 does not include a fee  for plastic bag                                                               
use, and she said  she would support such a fee.   She noted that                                                               
single-use plastic bags  under a certain mil  weight have already                                                               
been banned  in certain communities,  and in  spring considerably                                                               
fewer bags are  littering environment.  She  said the communities                                                               
of  Palmer and  Wasilla "have  taken the  elimination of  plastic                                                               
bags in  stride," with many  people bringing reusable bags  to do                                                               
their  shopping.    She  said  this  has  a  positive  effect  on                                                               
landfills, waterways, and the environment.                                                                                      
8:42:32 AM                                                                                                                    
MATT  SEAHOLM,  Executive   Director,  American  Progressive  Bag                                                               
Alliance, indicated that the alliance  is involved with a variety                                                               
of   packaging   products,   but  his   testimony   would   focus                                                               
specifically on  the subject of  plastic retail bags.   He stated                                                               
his opposition to  HB 81.  He said the  committee should have his                                                               
written testimony.  Mr. Seaholm  stated, "Any study that has ever                                                               
been  done has  shown, actually,  either an  uptick or  no actual                                                               
discernible  difference   in  the  amount  of   waste  or  litter                                                               
generated in the  location that has implemented a  ban similar to                                                               
HB 81."   He related a story done by  National Public Radio (NPR)                                                               
that morning  that highlighted the  unintended consequences  of a                                                               
proposal like  [HB 81],  including "the  carbon footprint  of the                                                               
alternative," such  as an increase  in garbage bag  sales because                                                               
plastic bags  are no longer  being used for  trash.  He  said the                                                               
alternative, which  typically is  paper, takes  up more  space in                                                               
landfills  and is  heavier  and  greater in  volume  in terms  of                                                               
transport.    He  said  the  NPR piece  also  touches  upon  "the                                                               
assumption that  cotton tote  bags are  better."   He recommended                                                               
the committee  look at  that story.   He  stated, "We  know these                                                               
policies are  well-intentioned, but  the fact  is they  really do                                                               
miss the mark on sustainability."                                                                                               
8:45:20 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND asked  how many bags are  actually recycled and                                                               
how  many  recycling centers  are  continuing  to accept  plastic                                                               
MS.  SEAHOLM  answered  that  there are  a  number  of  recyclers                                                               
throughout the  U.S. that  recycle plastic.   He  recollected the                                                               
last number  he had seen was  1.2 billion pounds of  plastic.  He                                                               
indicated that  10-15 percent [is  recycled], and while  that may                                                               
seem like a low number,  "the primary competitor to recycling for                                                               
us is actually re-use."   He relayed that the recycling authority                                                               
of Quebec identified that 78  percent of plastic bags are reused,                                                               
predominately  as trash  can liners.   Another  recycling use  of                                                               
plastic bags is  turning them into composite lumber  that is much                                                               
more durable than other lumber.                                                                                                 
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND noted that in  Alaska there are dozens of rural                                                               
communities that have  no access to recycling centers,  and it is                                                               
cost-prohibitive  to return  the plastic  to  an urban  community                                                               
with  recycling  capabilities.   She  asked  Mr. Seaholm  how  he                                                               
intends  to  reach out  to  these  communities  to help  them  to                                                               
MS. SEAHOLM prefaced his answer  by stating that recycling is not                                                               
the sole, end-life  use for a plastic retail bag.   He said there                                                               
is no doubt that plastic retain  bags are "the best option at the                                                               
checkout counter."   He  mentioned environmental  footprint, bags                                                               
from  Asia  made from  nonwoven  polypropylene,  and cotton  tote                                                               
bags, and he  said, "Any of those  have to be used  so many times                                                               
that overall you're  just not going to offset  that single re-use                                                               
of [a]  plastic retail  bag."   He clarified  that even  in areas                                                               
where there is  no recycling "that one re-use [of  a plastic bag]                                                               
still makes it the best option."   He indicated that since Alaska                                                               
has  no  manufacturers  of  plastic or  paper  retail  bags,  the                                                               
plastic retail bag  [weighs less] than the paper bags  to ship to                                                               
the state.                                                                                                                      
8:49:45 AM                                                                                                                    
BRENDA DOLMA  testified in  support of  HB 81.   She said  it was                                                               
legislation  that  would  aid  in  the  protection  of  Alaskans,                                                               
animals and waterways  in the state, and visitors to  the state -                                                               
not  corporations.    She related  that  [Homer]  has  "boomerang                                                               
bags," which  are made from  already existing materials,  such as                                                               
t-shirts.   She suggested other communities  could consider using                                                               
similar bags.   She noted  more than 1.96 million  tourists spend                                                               
thousands  of dollars  to visit  Alaska  and "don't  want to  see                                                               
'tundra  tumbleweeds'  floating  around."     She  surmised  that                                                               
tourists  that come  to fish  would  [care] about  the impact  of                                                               
plastics on water  life.  She indicated that [HB  81] would speak                                                               
for the  wildlife that cannot speak  for itself.  Ms.  Dolma said                                                               
Alaska  has 8  national parks,  16 wildlife  refuges, and  33,900                                                               
miles of coastline.                                                                                                             
MS. DOLMA referred  to language in HB 81,  [Section 1, subsection                                                               
(b), paragraph  (2), subparagraph (B),  on page 2,  lines 26-27],                                                               
which would  include under  the definition  of "retail  seller" a                                                               
retail establishment "that has annual  gross sales of $250,000 or                                                               
more  in the  previous calendar  year".   She questioned  whether                                                               
that would  allow rural  communities falling  below that  mark to                                                               
ban plastic bags.                                                                                                               
8:51:58 AM                                                                                                                    
ELISE  SORUM-BIRK,  Staff,   Representative  Andy  Josephson,  on                                                               
behalf  of  Representative Josephson,  prime  sponsor  of HB  81,                                                               
responded  that Ms.  Dolma  expressed a  valid  concern, and  she                                                               
suggested the committee could look  into amending the amount to a                                                               
smaller figure.                                                                                                                 
8:52:28 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ANDY  JOSEPHSON,  Alaska  State  Legislature,  as                                                               
prime  sponsor of  HB 81,  said the  issue came  up in  the House                                                               
Community  and Regional  Affairs Standing  Committee a  year ago.                                                               
He  said  he  would  not  take offense  at  any  attempt  by  the                                                               
committee to lower that threshold.                                                                                              
8:52:58 AM                                                                                                                    
LISA NILSEN  testified in  support of  HB 81.   She said  she has                                                               
been a  retailer for over  six years, and  her shop does  not use                                                               
single-use plastic bags.  She said  as a mother of five children,                                                               
she  feels responsible  for  teaching them  by  example the  many                                                               
options for  transporting purchases.   She said as  a fisherman's                                                               
wife, she hears  about the negative effect  of single-use plastic                                                               
bags  on ocean  life.   She indicated  her husband  has expressed                                                               
shock over  the single-use  plastic debris on  the beaches.   Ms.                                                               
Nilsen shared that she was born  and raised in Kake, Alaska.  She                                                               
said  she is  passionate about  discontinuing single-use  plastic                                                               
bags  in  Alaska.    She  noted  that  Northwestern  and  Coastal                                                               
indigenous  communities   in  Alaska  began   banning  single-use                                                               
plastic bags approximately  15 years ago.  She  said she believes                                                               
it is  time for Southeast  Alaska "to get onboard  with everybody                                                               
else."   She said she  listened to  [Mr. Seaholm] and  she thinks                                                               
"they found  their solution for  their plastic bags  in composite                                                               
lumber  products."   She  opined that  it is  the  right time  to                                                               
pursue the goal of no longer using single-use plastic bags.                                                                     
8:55:18 AM                                                                                                                    
JOHN HAVRILEK stated that he  was testifying on behalf of himself                                                               
and his wife.   He said he supports the ban of  plastic bags.  He                                                               
shared that he has been a resident  of Alaska for 50 years and is                                                               
no  stranger to  pollution,  having moved  from Cleveland,  Ohio,                                                               
where he  witnessed the Cleveland River  catch on fire.   He said                                                               
he is proud  that attempts are being made by  the State of Alaska                                                               
to ban [single-use]  plastic bags.  He said he  and his wife have                                                               
been using the same "recyclable bags"  for 10 years now.  He said                                                               
the  most important  thing  is to  keep the  beaches  clean.   He                                                               
explained that he lives on  the water along the Wrangell Narrows,                                                               
and  he picks  up plastic  off  the beach  and out  of the  water                                                               
daily, so he would love "to see them disappear permanently."                                                                    
8:56:55 AM                                                                                                                    
MARGI DASHEVSKI,  Alaska Youth Environmental  Association (AYEA),                                                               
testified in  support of  HB 81.   She said  there are  dozens of                                                               
Alaska students  across the state  who, over the past  year, have                                                               
lead  campaigns  to  ban  single-use   plastic  bags;  they  have                                                               
collected 766 petition signatures in  support of a statewide ban.                                                               
She  read  the  language  of the  petition,  which  extolled  the                                                               
benefits of  banning plastic bags  statewide.  She said  she sees                                                               
the  young adults  she works  with  as visionaries  for the  next                                                               
generations.    She echoed  the  testimony  of Ms.  Dowling  that                                                               
banning plastic bags would be a strong step forward for Alaska.                                                                 
8:58:53 AM                                                                                                                    
KENGO  NAGAOKA testified  in support  of HB  81, which  he called                                                               
common  sense legislation.   He  noted that  the Municipality  of                                                               
Anchorage recently passed  an ordinance related to  a plastic bag                                                               
ban,  and it  would  be taking  effect soon.    He said  [banning                                                               
single-use  plastic bags]  is "a  positive  thing to  do for  our                                                               
environment and our water and our  tourism."  He said he is aware                                                               
many communities  in the state  have already instated  such bans,                                                               
and he  opined that  it is  time for the  state to  support those                                                               
communities.    He expressed  support  for  high school  students                                                               
working on  campaigns around the  state to reduce use  of single-                                                               
use plastic.   He recognized Homer as addressing  the issue soon.                                                               
Mr. opined  that banning  plastic bags is  not enough;  the state                                                               
must  encourage alternatives  and ensure  those alternatives  are                                                               
accessible  to  all  Alaskans.     He  said  in  Anchorage,  many                                                               
residents use  [public] transit or  walk to buy  their groceries,                                                               
and he wants  to make sure reusable bags are  accessible and "the                                                               
paper  alternatives don't  have an  excessive fee  on them."   He                                                               
encouraged the  committee to think  of "the equity  components of                                                               
this proposition, as well."   He thanked Representative Josephson                                                               
for sponsoring HB 81, and he  encouraged those who may be "on the                                                               
fence" to take a closer look at the proposed legislation.                                                                       
9:01:30 AM                                                                                                                    
SILVIA  DAEUMICHEN testified  in support  of a  plastic bag  ban.                                                               
She said  she works with a  group of children ages  9-13, who are                                                               
worried about the adverse effects  of plastic on the environment.                                                               
There  are  about  10  children  in  the  group,  and  they  call                                                               
themselves  "Kids' Environmental  Action."   She  said, "We  feel                                                               
that humans need  to take better care ... of  our home planet and                                                               
of  the animals,  and banning  the plastic  bags would  be a  big                                                               
step."   She said she  does not use  plastic bags; she  lines her                                                               
trash can  with newspaper,  as she  learned to  do growing  up in                                                               
East  Germany.   She  encouraged  less  plastic use  in  general,                                                               
especially in  Alaska where  it is not  very feasible  to recycle                                                               
plastic.   She opined that  efforts should be made  to transition                                                               
to the use  of compostable plastic bags, which break  down in the                                                               
landfills and do not release toxic  chemicals.  She said Kids for                                                               
Environmental  Action have  done  some research.   Regarding  the                                                               
recycling  of  plastic  bags,  she  mentioned a  low  rate  of  5                                                               
percent.   She  stated  that in  Fairbanks "there  is  no way  of                                                               
recycling."   She  noted that  Kids for  Environmental Action  is                                                               
part of  the Savings Planet  Coalition; therefore,  she reflected                                                               
that she  could say she was  speaking for hundreds of  people who                                                               
would be in support of HB 81.                                                                                                   
9:04:01 AM                                                                                                                    
ADAM HYKES testified  in opposition to HB 81.   He said he "loves                                                               
the environment"  and picks up trash  from the side of  the road,                                                               
but he sees the issue as  being "a people problem" not "a plastic                                                               
bag problem."   He added, "This plastic didn't ...  [make] a jail                                                               
break  from  the grocery  store;  people  put  them there."    He                                                               
referred  to the  Prohibition  on alcohol  and  "how that  worked                                                               
out,"  and  he indicated  that  any  prohibition, although  well-                                                               
intended, costs money  to enforce.  He opined that  it is not job                                                               
of  government  to   pay  for  [enforcing  a  ban]   but  is  the                                                               
responsibility of  citizens.  He  said the  amazing organizations                                                               
he has heard about "should continue  to do what they do," because                                                               
"this is a  problem."  He said he does  not think the legislature                                                               
is considering the  cost that would be involved  with enforcing a                                                               
[single-use plastic  bag] ban, including the  punishment involved                                                               
if people  ignore the  ban.   Mr. Hykes said  he loves  living in                                                               
Homer and Alaska,  but restated his position  that [the proposed]                                                               
ban is  not the job  of the government.   He  said he works  in a                                                               
grocery store  that uses a  lot of plastic  bags.  If  paper bags                                                               
had to  be used,  he indicated,  the price of  doing so  would be                                                               
passed along to  the customers.  He said the  state does not have                                                               
enough money currently  to spend "on new laws" or  "putting it on                                                               
the shoulders  of citizens."   He  concluded, "So,  as much  as I                                                               
love this effort, I am not in support of this House bill."                                                                      
9:06:22 AM                                                                                                                    
AMANDA  SASSI testified  in support  of a  statewide plastic  bag                                                               
ban.   She stated that  single-use plastic is detrimental  to the                                                               
environment,   and  Alaska's   environment,  in   particular,  is                                                               
sensitive.   She opined that  using less plastic would  mean less                                                               
plastic  in  trees and  waterways,  which  would ultimately  keep                                                               
plastic  out  of  animals  that  people could  be  eating.    She                                                               
expressed appreciation  for the effort  being made [under  HB 81]                                                               
and said she hopes "it is considered."                                                                                          
9:07:58 AM                                                                                                                    
NILS  ANDREASSEN,  Executive  Director, Alaska  Municipal  League                                                               
(AML), said  he cannot speak  for or against "the  prohibition of                                                               
disposable plastic shopping bags," but  he would speak to Article                                                               
10 of  the Alaska State Constitution,  regarding the maximization                                                               
of local  self-government.   He said, "When  we do  any statewide                                                               
preemption  of  local  decision-making,  we come  back  to  local                                                               
control and  really giving communities  the opportunity  to speak                                                               
for or  against something ...  of this  nature."  He  opined that                                                               
"the comments  from Sitka"  were relevant,  in terms  of bringing                                                               
the ban  issue before the  community, addressing  opposition, and                                                               
potentially  changing  the  minds of  community  members  through                                                               
public education, campaigning,  and advocacy.  He  said he thinks                                                               
every community should have that  opportunity.  He said there are                                                               
ways  to improve  HB  81, including  to  give municipalities  the                                                               
opportunity to  opt in or out  of s stateside decision.   He said                                                               
AML  would  be  interested  in implementation  grants,  "to  walk                                                               
through what implementation  looks like at the local  level."  He                                                               
offered to  work with the  bill sponsor to assess  local interest                                                               
and  better   understand  the   implications  of   HB  81.     He                                                               
reemphasized   AML's   interest   in  local   control   and   the                                                               
maximization of local government.                                                                                               
9:10:08 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND  asked  about the  unorganized  boroughs,  for                                                               
which the legislature has the responsibility to act as assembly.                                                                
MR.  ANDREASSEN answered  that  to the  extent  the Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature  acts as  the assembly  for unorganized  boroughs, it                                                               
can make decisions related to  those boroughs; however, there are                                                               
165  incorporated cities  and boroughs  in Alaska,  for whom  the                                                               
legislature  is not  the  assembly,  and it  is  to  those he  is                                                               
speaking, because they have local decision-making in place.                                                                     
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND queried, "So then,  it is our responsibility to                                                               
make those  ... kinds of  decisions for the  unorganized borough,                                                               
and  they're  not  in  the  purview  of  the  [Alaska]  Municipal                                                               
MR. ANDREASSEN replied, "For that borough, yes."                                                                                
9:11:21 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  asked  Mr. Andreassen  if  he  is                                                               
aware  of  any  laws  the   legislature  has  passed  that  apply                                                               
exclusively to "the unorganized borough within Alaska."                                                                         
MR. ANDREASSEN answered no.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  expressed curiosity as  to whether                                                               
the bill  sponsor or  anyone else  on the  committee is  aware of                                                               
9:11:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JACKSON   asked  [Representative  Kreiss-Tomkins]                                                               
whether  he was  aware  of  any other  laws  the legislature  had                                                               
passed in that regard.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS shook his head no.                                                                                
9:12:12 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  mentioned that  during debate on  a recent                                                               
statewide smoking  ban, consideration was  made both to  an "opt-                                                               
out"  and "opt-in"  clause.   A  statewide ban  was enacted,  but                                                               
communities could opt out.  He  noted that Sitka attempted to opt                                                               
out,  but voters  voted  that  down.   In  light  of the  concern                                                               
regarding unorganized  boroughs, he asked Mr.  Andreassen whether                                                               
he thought it would make more  sense to offer an opt-in provision                                                               
rather than an opt-out provision.                                                                                               
MR. ANDREASSEN answered that he  thinks an opt-in provision would                                                               
maximize local  control more  than an opt-out  option would.   He                                                               
indicated  that giving  the  decision to  the  community to  make                                                               
would be positive.   To the question of  the unorganized boroughs                                                               
and  decisions that  could be  made in  their interest,  he noted                                                               
that  there are  both  home rule  and  first-class cities  within                                                               
unorganized  boroughs  that make  decisions  on  behalf of  their                                                               
residents;  therefore,  it  is  not a  clear-cut  case  that  the                                                               
legislature  could  make  decisions   on  behalf  of  unorganized                                                               
boroughs and  not impact "the  incorporated cities therein."   He                                                               
suggested the legislature  would want to "work  with those cities                                                               
to really understand what that looks  like."  He said AML has had                                                               
some communication with unorganized  boroughs, many of which have                                                               
expressed  interest  in   strengthening  communication  with  the                                                               
legislature  by  establishing  a  "feedback  group"  between  the                                                               
borough and  legislature.  He  said he  thinks that is  work that                                                               
can be done and for which AML could offer assistance.                                                                           
9:15:06 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HANNAN closed public testimony on HB 81.                                                                               
9:15:21 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON, to  the  bill sponsor,  said  he has  a                                                               
problem with  the enforcement aspect  of HB  81.  He  pointed out                                                               
that in reading  the analysis on the back of  the fiscal note, it                                                               
seems  as though  the  Department  of Environmental  Conservation                                                               
(DEC) has  no interest  in seeking  out violations  or conducting                                                               
any routine inspection.   He said the  proposed legislation would                                                               
throw more onto  DEC when the department cannot keep  up with its                                                               
current  workload.   He asked,  "How  are they  going to  enforce                                                               
9:16:31 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON offered  his understanding  that "there                                                               
would  be  mostly  compliance."   For  example,  there  would  be                                                               
situations like that in  Anchorage, where citizens overwhelmingly                                                               
passed the ban  and allowed time for existing bag  supplies to be                                                               
depleted.  He predicted that people  will know there is a ban and                                                               
will comply with  it, and "they won't be  ordering that inventory                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON opined that there  are "so many holes" in                                                               
[HB  81].   He  said  packaging for  bulk  grains, fruits,  nuts,                                                               
vegetables, bakery goods, "or other  full food products" would be                                                               
excluded.   He suggested  that "other  full food  products" means                                                               
anything a  person would buy  in a  grocery store.   He expressed                                                               
confusion  as to  how the  ban would  actually be  enforced.   He                                                               
emphasized that he  thinks local control is "a big  part of this,                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE   JOSEPHSON,  regarding   the  "other   full  food                                                               
products", said he  thinks this means items that  need "some sort                                                               
of container."   He indicated that this language  was designed to                                                               
provide "some  ease for the customer."   He stated, "The  test of                                                               
the bill isn't absolute purity; it's improvement."                                                                              
9:18:57 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. SORUM-BIRK added  that last year, when a  previous version of                                                               
the proposed legislation was heard,  a concern was "sanitation in                                                               
grocery stores."   She explained, "It might be  unsanitary to ...                                                               
have a  meat product touching  your fruit in your  reusable bag."                                                               
She  directed attention  to statute,  AS 04.16.120,  mentioned in                                                               
bill  language on  page  2, line  [5], and  she  noted there  are                                                               
specifications  regarding, for  example, how  an unfinished  wine                                                               
bottle  must be  sealed in  order for  the consumer  to take  the                                                               
bottle home.   She explained  that the exceptions are  created to                                                               
make things "safe" and "sanitary."   Regarding local control, Ms.                                                               
Sorum-Birk said  she does not have  an answer but thinks  that is                                                               
something  that  should be  considered  further.   She  said  she                                                               
thinks  "this  would  be  very  beneficial  for  the  unorganized                                                               
borough," but  she indicated the  question should be asked  as to                                                               
where  a  limit  should  be on  local  control  when  considering                                                               
benefits to the environment and to local communities.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON  added  that   while  he  respects  the                                                               
concerns and interests  of local authorities, it  is typical that                                                               
the legislature passes legislation  that makes impacts statewide.                                                               
Regarding  the  opt-out  issue,  he said  he  thinks  that  would                                                               
"invite a  discussion statewide  of this issue  and would  not be                                                               
offensive  to the  principals of  the bill."   He  said he  would                                                               
welcome an amendment  to the bill to that effect.   He said there                                                               
is a huge amount of support for  HB 81 from across the state, and                                                               
he thinks  environmental concerns and tourism  concerns make this                                                               
a critical issue.                                                                                                               
9:22:44 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   REVAK   indicated    he   found   Representative                                                               
Thompson's  remarks that  plastic  bags had  been  the answer  to                                                               
paper  bags at  one  point  interesting.   He  said his  research                                                               
brought  him  to  a  Scottish   report  -  a  full  environmental                                                               
assessment report  released in 2005  - and  he asked if  the bill                                                               
sponsor was familiar with the study.                                                                                            
9:23:24 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  SORUM-BIRK  answered  no,  but  said she  has  looked  at  a                                                               
recently  conducted  Danish  study,  as well  as  a  2008  United                                                               
Kingdom Environmental Agency study.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  REVAK  indicated  that  in the  study  "and  four                                                               
others  listed," in  "almost  every  environmental issue,"  paper                                                               
bags were "far  more ... negatively impacting  to the environment                                                               
than the production of plastic bags."   The one area in which the                                                               
study found plastic bags to be  more detrimental was in "the risk                                                               
of  litter."    He  listed   some  categories:    primary  energy                                                               
consumption, consumption  of water,  climate change,  emission of                                                               
greenhouse  gases,  acid  rain,  atmospheric  acidification,  air                                                               
quality,   ground-level  ozone   production,   and  solid   waste                                                               
production.    He   asked  why,  if  paper   bag  consumption  is                                                               
considered far  more detrimental  to the  environment, it  is not                                                               
considered in HB 81.                                                                                                            
9:24:49 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON noted that  in past reiterations of this                                                               
legislation, in  former legislative sessions, there  was language                                                               
proposing a  fee for paper  products.  The paper  industry pushed                                                               
back on that, he said.   He emphasized that he would welcome such                                                               
an amendment.  Notwithstanding that,  he requested that committee                                                               
members ask themselves  the following question:   "Are we solving                                                               
plastics problems one bit at  a time, starting with plastic bags,                                                               
or are  we just pushing  this off  because it's unsolvable?"   He                                                               
opined that to  say that "this just won't  work" without offering                                                               
an alternative  "is no alternative  at all."   He said  he stands                                                               
with Representative  Revak's former  boss, Senator  Dan Sullivan,                                                               
who    has   expressed    concern    about   "ocean    plastics."                                                               
Representative Josephson exclaimed, "I  am tired of reading about                                                               
whales opened up with 50 pounds  of plastic inside them.  This is                                                               
not  a sustainable  future,  and this  is a  place  where we  can                                                               
9:26:18 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JACKSON  noted 24 communities were  "listed."  She                                                               
said she is an advocate for  local accountability.  She asked how                                                               
many businesses  in Alaska  are "affected  with plastic  bags" in                                                               
producing or where "that is their business."                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON  responded that  he thinks "no  one does                                                               
that."   He recollected there  had been testimony to  that effect                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  JACKSON  suggested  people  concerned  can  start                                                               
cleaning up  plastic bags.   She indicated  that plastic  bag use                                                               
had come  about because of  environmental studies  done regarding                                                               
cutting down  trees [to produce paper  bags].  She said  it seems                                                               
like "an endless  circle ... for us  as a state to  take the time                                                               
to  mandate what  people use  and what  people don't  use."   She                                                               
questioned how the law would be enforced.                                                                                       
9:28:47 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. SORUM-BIRK  said there  are studies that  show it  takes more                                                               
energy to produce a  paper bag and a lot more  to produce a cloth                                                               
bag.   However, each of those  studies misses a key  point, which                                                               
is  the  environmental  impact  of   the  litter  on  the  marine                                                               
environment  and  how  single-use   plastics  impact  the  marine                                                               
ecosystem and resources.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE JACKSON said  if she uses a cotton bag  to go food                                                               
shopping, there would  be germs accumulating in the  bag that she                                                               
would have to use water and electricity to eliminate.                                                                           
9:30:42 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  expressed   appreciation  to  the                                                               
sponsor and  testifiers.  He said  there are two goals  in HB 81:                                                               
[reduction of] litter and reduction  of resource expenditure.  He                                                               
focused  on the  latter.   Per Representatives  Revak's questions                                                               
and  the studies  mentioned  by Ms.  Sorum-Birk,  he asked,  "You                                                               
accept  the conclusion  of resource  consumption expenditure  for                                                               
plastic  bags versus  alternatives,  such as  paper,  or, if  you                                                               
don't, what do you dispute about those studies?"                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON  deferred to  Ms. Sorum-Birk,  but noted                                                               
that someone  today had testified  that he/she has used  the same                                                               
bags for a decade.  He added  that when someone calls in from the                                                               
American Plastics  Progressive Alliance, he has  to question that                                                               
person's motivation.                                                                                                            
MS. SORUM-BIRK  said she somewhat  agrees with the  analyses done                                                               
on energy expenditure  needed, but what they  are not considering                                                               
is  whether  the  materials  are   a  renewable  or  nonrenewable                                                               
resource.    She  said  plastics are  made  from  a  nonrenewable                                                               
resource, which  could be an  issue in  the future.   She relayed                                                               
that  Americans use  approximately 100  billion plastic  bags per                                                               
year,  which  requires  about  12   million  barrels  of  oil  to                                                               
manufacture.  She said, "It only  takes about 14 plastic bags for                                                               
the  equivalent  of gas  to  run  one  mile."   Regarding  carbon                                                               
footprint, she  said it  is true  that polyethylene  requires low                                                               
energy  to   produce,  is  cheap   and  cost-effective,   and  is                                                               
recyclable; however,  [only] "about 1 percent  of bags throughout                                                               
the U.S. are  recycled."  She said the issue  of carbon footprint                                                               
is real  and so  is the issue  of how many  times people  reuse a                                                               
product,  but  that  is  true  for any  product,  whether  it  be                                                               
plastic, paper, or canvas.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS noted  that  the  studies are  not                                                               
exclusively  from  the  industry,  but  the  study  mentioned  by                                                               
Representative  Revak and  "other lifecycle  analyses" are  often                                                               
from    pro-environment    governments    considering    resource                                                               
consumption impact.   He  said that  is one side.   The  other is                                                               
litter reduction.   He said he picks up trash  along the road and                                                               
off  the beach,  so  he  feels "engaged  in  the  question."   He                                                               
observed that the assumption seems  to be that the elimination of                                                               
single-use disposable  plastic bag  use will decrease  the amount                                                               
of plastic pollution.  He said  he has not seen that relation and                                                               
wonders "how that cause and effect assumption is substantiated."                                                                
MS. SORUM-BIRK  responded that  she had  looked for  data showing                                                               
what percentage of debris in  the marine environment was plastic.                                                               
She said  she could  not find  data on the  North Pacific,  but a                                                               
European  study of  2016 showed  that about  7 percent  of marine                                                               
debris was plastic bags.                                                                                                        
9:37:05 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON  said  part  of  what  the  legislature                                                               
considers daily is the question  of what has political viability.                                                               
He  noted  that there  is  statewide  momentum  - even  from  the                                                               
conservative  areas of  Wasilla, Palmer,  and Soldotna  - to  ban                                                               
[single-use] plastic bans.   He suggested one reason  may be "the                                                               
visual insult"  of plastic in  an otherwise  pristine wilderness.                                                               
He stated concern that if focus  is given to the issue being only                                                               
a small  percent of the total  problem, then it will  be "easy to                                                               
retreat from the issue."  He  suggested that trying to expand the                                                               
bill  to include  other forms  of plastic  in the  ban "could  do                                                               
jeopardy  to what  life the  bill has."   He  emphasized that  18                                                               
diverse  communities have  said  they  want the  ban,  and he  is                                                               
"honoring their efforts."                                                                                                       
9:38:38 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE REVAK asked if the  bill sponsor had considered an                                                               
exemption for biodegradable plastics.                                                                                           
MS.  SORUM-BIRK  answered  that   the  issue  with  biodegradable                                                               
plastics in Alaska is that they  take a certain amount of heat to                                                               
biodegrade in a special industrial  level composting facility, of                                                               
which  she  speculated  there  may  be  one  in  all  Alaska,  in                                                               
Anchorage.   She  said  she has  tried  to compost  biodegradable                                                               
plastics, and  it takes "a very  hot compost for that  to work" -                                                               
ideally at the industrial level.                                                                                                
9:39:31 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HANNAN announced that HB 81 was held over.                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
CSBG Opening Comments 4-9-2019.pdf HCRA 4/9/2019 8:00:00 AM
Rural Cap Testimony on CSBG.pdf HCRA 4/9/2019 8:00:00 AM
CSBG Presentation.pdf HCRA 4/9/2019 8:00:00 AM
FFY19 CSBG State Plan.pdf HCRA 4/9/2019 8:00:00 AM
FY17 CSBG FactSheets_AK.pdf HCRA 4/9/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81 Opposition Letters.pdf HCRA 4/9/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81
HB 81 Support Letters.pdf HCRA 4/9/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 81