Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124
03/10/2018 03:00 PM LABOR & COMMERCE
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HB 264-SHOPPING BAG FEES & RECYCLING 3:48:32 PM CHAIR KITO announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 264, "An Act relating to a fee for disposable shopping bags; relating to the sale of reusable shopping bags; relating to the recycling of disposable shopping bags; and providing for an effective date." 3:49:45 PM The committee took an at-ease from 3:49 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. 3:50:34 PM LISA DELANEY, Staff, Representative Andy Josephson, Alaska State Legislature, presented HB 264 on behalf of Representative Josephson, prime sponsor. She gave a PowerPoint presentation [included in committee packet]. MS. DELANEY began with slide 1, 'Motivations': Plastic doesn't belong in nature. Plastic pollution is detrimental to our environment & wildlife Unsightlyfor residents & visitors People come here for a wilderness experience Do we want tourists leaving with the impression that we don't care about our wild spaces? We're trying to encourage people to be mindful of their behavior (consumption) and its effects on their community, environment, health, and economy. 3:51:43 PM MS. DELANEY moved to slide 2, "Why plastic bags?": A major plastic offender People overuse plastic bags they're free and readily accessible So flimsy and delicate that one bag is often not enough anything with corners, must double-bag it! Light and easily carried by the wind?and Alaska has some serious winds So easy to substitute Cloth bags make a much better replacement sturdy, washable, even stylish Even thick plastic bags don't end up in the environment on a comparable scale to thin single- use bags 3:52:37 PM MS. DELANEY spoke to slide 3, "Quick Perspective Break": Plastic does not degrade; it breaks into smaller and smaller pieces Bits of plastic are like magnets to pollutants (?PCBs, for example) These tiny plastic bits, covered in toxins, enter the ecosystem & work their way into the food chain Fat-soluble toxins (again, think PCBs) accumulate in animal tissues, and toxins accumulate exponentially as you move up the food chain We Alaskans love our delicious rich-in-fat salmon? Plastic pollution has far-reaching effects that impact human health as well as the environment & economy 3:53:35 PM MS. DELANEY addressed slide 4, "Why not start with a ban?": This was a tough call; bans are more common (and they get right to the point). Our rationale: We wanted people to have the choice?give folks a chance to get used to the idea changing behaviors takes time The state is in need of revenue A fee is still effective in reducing plastic bag use Stores already subsidize disposable bag costs by charging more for goods purchased Estimated hidden bag costs = $25-50 per person per year -- bags aren't as free as they seem 3:54:32 PM MS. DELANEY moved to slide 5, "The Committee Substitute": Bans single-use plastic bags under 4 mils thick About the thickness of plastic sheeting Establishes minimum $0.10 fee for all other bags (paper/reusable) Stores keep this feeits only purpose is to prevent giveaway of thick plastic bags (i.e., working around the rule) Removes recycling requirement (moot if there's a ban) Exempts stores under $250,000 gross sales 3:55:13 PM MS. DELANEY spoke to slide 6, "Peer Pressure": GLOBAL More than 40 countries have a plastic bag ban Bangladesh was the first (in 2002) Kenya has strictest ban (violators get up to 4 years in prison and fines from $19,000-$38,000) UNITED STATES 13 US cities in 7 states have fee 110 US cities in 18 states have ban The most common legislation across the US involves a ban on plastic bags with a fee for paper & reusable bags 3:56:00 PM REPRESENTATIVE STUTES said she is not clear on the fee for paper or reusable bags. MS. DELANEY answered that there is no fee for a bag brought into the store. REPRESENTATIVE STUTES asked whether there is a .10 fee for a paper bag. MS. DELANEY answered in the affirmative. 3:56:40 PM MS. DELANEY addressed slide 7, "Peer Pressure - Lower 49", showing the list of states with bans on plastic bags and states with fees for plastic bags. She indicated California is the only state with a statewide ban. 3:57:10 PM REPRESENTATIVE WOOL stated that Alaska should appear in the list of states with bans. 3:57:39 PM MS. DELANEY moved on to slide 8 showing the 17 communities in Alaska with bans on plastic bags. She pointed out that Palmer, Denali Borough, and Unalaska are considering a ban. MS. DELANEY moved to slide 9, "The resource(ful) state": Chefornak - Community purchased canvas bags for the local store to use Chevak - Took used plastic bags & crocheted them into reusable plastic bags Cordova - Eyak Preservation Council ran Go Fund Me effort to raise funds to give a cloth bag bearing their logo to every resident Denali Borough - Partnered with Subaru to distribute reusable bags Koyuk - Received Alaska Conservation grant to provide two canvas bags to each household Wasilla - Working with local youth groups (e.g. scouts) to sell cloth bags instead of candy 3:59:34 PM MS. DELANEY described the original bill in slide 10, "Section 1": Adds "Article 5: Disposable Shopping Bag Fees" to 43.98 (Revenue & Taxation, Misc Provisions) Establishes a $0.20 fee for single-use, carry-out plastic bags Lists exceptions (e.g., bags for bulk food, ice, newspaper) Works around any municipal regulations to prevent compounding fees State fees are not in addition to muni fees - Provides instructions for retail seller - Display fees on receipt - May not reimburse fee (or otherwise work around the rule) - Maintain & file records with Revenue Explains penalties for violation ($250, $500, $750 within a year) DOR deals with violations Defines terms ("disposable shopping bag", "retail seller", reusable bag") 4:00:25 PM REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked how the amount of $250,000 was determined. MS. DELANEY answered it came through the House Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee (HCRA). REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked for more information. MS. DELANEY said it came from another committee member. 4:01:12 PM REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON asked whether similar figures were found in similar areas. MS. DELANEY answered the figure was taken from other bills in the Lower 48. MS. DELANEY addressed slide 13, "Section 2": Amends 46.06 (Water, Air, Energy & Environmental Conservation, Recycling & Reduction of Litter) Establishes a recycling requirement - Retailers must accept plastic bags for the purpose of recycling Stipulates that plastic bags must show recycling symbol Requires that reusable bags must be made available (obviously visible!) for purchase near checkout Outlines fees for violation of the above ($250, $500, $750 within a year) - DEC deals with violations Defines terms ("disposable shopping bag", "retail seller", "reusable bag") per Section 1 MS. DELANEY moved to slide 14 and stated Section 3 provides an effective date of January 1, 2019. 4:03:00 PM MS. DELANEY described "the Committee Substitute' in slide 15: Section 1: Adds new section to AS 46.06, "Recycling & Reduction of Litter" Establishes a ban on single-use plastic bags Lists exceptions (e.g., bags for bulk food, ice, newspaper) Implements a minimum charge for all other bags (paper & reusable) Provides instructions for retail seller - Display price on receipt - May not reimburse fee (or otherwise work around the rule) Explains penalties for violation ($250, $500, $750 within a year) - DOR deals with violations Defines terms ("disposable shopping bag", "retail seller", reusable bag") Section 2: Provides an effective date of July 1, 2019 4:04:08 PM REPRESENTATIVE WOOL said he often uses the self-checkout. He asked whether there would be paper bags at the self-checkout and how it would work. MS. DELANEY answered she assumes one would scan it like any other item. REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked whether anyone had looked into how the system works in other states such as California. MS. DELANEY answered she had heard it was done in such a way in Hawaii. 4:05:47 PM REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH said he thinks it's a terrible idea. He asked whether it addresses paper bags or dog waste bags. MS. DELANEY answered the CS wou address single use plastic bags. REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH asked about the thinking behind the community size provision. MS. DELANEY answered the original bill had a provision in which municipalities could take part in the state tax; however, certain boroughs can't do that. She added the CS would establish a statewide ban. 4:07:35 PM REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked about dog waste stations and bags. MS. DELANEY answered the proposed bill doesn't apply to those bags. 4:08:03 PM CHAIR KITO suggested the proposed bill would only apply to retail operations. 4:08:18 PM NICHOLAS WALSH testified in support of HB 264. He said he has been fishing and hunting in Alaska for years and has seen the impact of plastics in the middle of nowhere. He said he thinks Hawaii has a state-wide ban on plastic bags. 4:10:24 PM CHAIR KITO opened public testimony on HB 264. 4:10:29 PM PATTI FISHER, Member, Mat-Su Zero Waste Coalition, testified in support of HB 264. She shared information about the organization. She compared the coalition with the American Progressive Bag Alliance and stated she is upset that an outside group could tell Alaskans what to do. She said the single use plastic bags contain particles that are entering the food chain. She said she forgets her reusable bags all the time and she just puts her groceries in her cart and into her car. She said banning single use plastic bags is the right thing to do. 4:14:02 PM VERONICA PADULA, STEM Program Manager, Aleut Community of St. Paul Island, Alaska, Ecosystem Conservation Office, testified in support of HB 264. She indicated she is a graduate student studying the effects of plastic debris on seabirds in the Bering Sea. She said she and her fellow scientists have seen all types of debris wash up on the shorelines. She added that debris can hurt them internally and can starve the animals. She said the chemicals leech into the tissues of the birds. She stated that the populations of birds have been declining. She said the local community had collected over 10 tons of debris from the shoreline and the community decided to ban bags from its store. 4:19:34 PM REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH said he appreciates the community made a local decision as other communities have. He shared a letter from the Alaska Municipal League asking for local governments to make the choice themselves as a local control issue. He asked Ms. Padula whether she supports allowing local government to make the choice. MS. PADULA answered she supports anything that reduces the use of single use plastics. 4:21:09 PM CAROL MONTGOMERY, Mat-Su Zero Waste Coalition, testified in the hearing on HB 264. She said, "People really hate plastic bags." She remarked the written comments were strongly in favor and the city council vote was 5-1. She said some have argued that local communities should decide and not the state. She pointed out the state legislation would close a loophole that allows stores to hand out slightly heavier plastic bags for free. She opined a fee helps businesses. She said she had spoken with two corporate representatives who said they feel a fee is the only way to support the use of the reusable bags and would help level the playing field. She queried why people who bring their own bags should be subsidizing people who don't. She said she took issue with the plastic bag industry claim that less than 2 percent of litter is from plastic bags. She said the plastic bags fly around, which is why they are seen everywhere. She spoke to the inability of plastic to biodegrade. 4:25:58 PM REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON asked whether Ms. Montgomery is one of the leaders of the Mat-Su Zero Waste Coalition. MS. MONTGOMERY answered in the affirmative. REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON asked whether Ms. Montgomery has firsthand knowledge of domesticated reindeer or other ungulates consuming plastic. MS. MONTGOMERY answered it was the issue that got the group started. She said a 3rd grader had been to the Matanuska Experiment Farm where a scientist pulled nine plastic bags out of a research caribou. She added the group was informed that scientists pull plastic out of these animals regularly. She stated the mission was to raise awareness of the damage done to the community by plastic bags. REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON shared his understanding that Palmer, Alaska, is looking for a ban and the Mat-Su Borough looked at a ban. He asked about areas outside the Mat-Su Borough that share the same concerns. MS. MONTGOMERY said Palmer Community Council had held a meeting to discuss plastic bag legislation and there was a large turnout in the community with 100 percent support for "doing something." She explained the only power the borough has is to impose an excise tax. She said people don't like the idea of a tax. 4:29:12 PM REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH mentioned the discussion regarding the choice between cloth and disposable diapers. He said he has found a number of uses for plastic bags. He asked whether people would be able to buy plastic bags. MS. MONTGOMERY shared her understand that the legislation would apply to carry out grocery bags. 4:31:33 PM BRENDA DOLMA testified in support of HB 264. She emphasized she is in support of a total ban on single use plastics. She said in her community there are programs whose goal to provide the community with bags other than plastic bags. She mentioned the Boomerang Bags worldwide initiative. She said she spent decades picking up marine debris in her community. She remarked on the effects of plastic on animals. She reiterated she would support a change in the bill from single use bags to single use plastics. She said she would also support the removal of any exemption. 4:38:00 PM MARY WILSON testified in support of HB 264. She stated she has been using reusable bags for years. She said she thinks most of the time people that complain about using reusable bags see the value after they try it out a few times. 4:40:28 PM CHAIR KITO announced he would leave public testimony open on HB 264. CHAIR KITO held over HB 264.