Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124


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10:35:53 AM Start
10:36:24 AM HB264
12:17:53 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
              HB 264-SHOPPING BAG FEES & RECYCLING                                                                          
10:36:24 AM                                                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR PARISH announced  that the only 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."                                                                                               
10:36:56 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  TALERICO   questioned  whether  there   had  been                                                               
sufficient public notice given for the bill hearing.                                                                            
10:37:26 AM                                                                                                                   
The committee took an at-ease from 10:37 a.m. to 10:38 a.m.                                                                     
10:38:18 AM                                                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR  PARISH noted  that HB  264 had  been noticed  two weeks                                                               
ago, but the hearing was canceled.   He stated his intent to hold                                                               
public testimony open for the next hearing.                                                                                     
10:38:54 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  ANDY  JOSEPHSON,  Alaska  State  Legislature,  as                                                               
prime sponsor, introduced  HB 264.  He stated that  the world has                                                               
"a  plastics  problem,"  and  in a  former  legislature,  he  had                                                               
introduced a bill to ban  microbeads, which are particles used in                                                               
exfoliants,  toothpaste,   and  other  products.     Because  the                                                               
microbeads  cannot  be  collected through  wastewater  treatment,                                                               
they end up in "all sorts of  waters."  He said the bill garnered                                                               
interest  of other  states and  the issue  was taken  up by  U.S.                                                               
Congress,  which resulted  in  "a ban  of  sorts on  microbeads."                                                               
Representative   Josephson   said   his  interest   in   plastics                                                               
continues; he sees plastic in the  ocean when he kayaks.  He said                                                               
there are five  gyres - massive areas in the  ocean where plastic                                                               
collects.    He said  plastic  also  "makes  its  way up  to  the                                                               
Arctic."   He explained that the  idea for HB 264  came from that                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON said there  are several states that have                                                               
taken  on  the  issue  of  plastic bags.    He  noted  that  five                                                               
communities in  Alaska, including Hooper Bay  and, most recently,                                                               
Kodiak have  "essentially banned plastic bags."   He acknowledged                                                               
that not  using plastic  bags would  require some  adjustment but                                                               
said he  thinks people can make  that adjustment.  He  noted that                                                               
"a powerful  member of the  other body"  had expressed to  him an                                                               
interest in  banning plastic  bags, thus  he maintained  there is                                                               
bipartisan interest in  this topic.  He said in  January the City                                                               
of Wasilla  banned plastic bags.   The Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su)                                                               
considered  a ban,  but  then  decided that  the  ban in  Wasilla                                                               
"covered  most of  the problem."   The  City of  Palmer has  also                                                               
expressed interest  in the subject  of banning plastic bags.   He                                                               
remarked  that there  has  been a  plastic bag  stuck  in a  tree                                                               
outside  a   court  house   since  November   [2017].     To  the                                                               
consideration that  [banning plastic bags] would  create a degree                                                               
of inconvenience, he said he thinks  it is important to "move the                                                               
world forward" and "try to take on these issues."                                                                               
10:43:18 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER asked for the definition of plastic bags.                                                                
10:43:57 AM                                                                                                                   
LISA DELANEY, Staff, Representative  Andy Josephson, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  on   behalf  of  Representative   Josephson,  prime                                                               
sponsor,  said   the  bill  sponsor  defines   plastic  bags,  as                                                               
addressed under  HB 264, as being  at least 2.25 mils  and having                                                               
10:44:43 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER offered his understanding that when the                                                                 
Mat-Su Borough had tabled the issue of plastic bags, the intent                                                                 
had been to tax the bags rather than ban them.                                                                                  
10:45:06 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON said Representative Rauscher could be                                                                  
right, but in Wasilla it was an outright ban.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER, in response to the bill sponsor,                                                                       
offered his understanding that Glenn Allen had banned plastic                                                                   
10:46:09 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. DELANEY paraphrased the sponsor statement, which read as                                                                    
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
     Single-use   plastic   bags    are   harmful   to   our                                                                    
     environment,   our    wildlife,   and    our   economy.                                                                    
     Researchers have  shown that wildlife, such  as caribou                                                                    
     and  moose,  will eat  plastic  bags,  which cannot  be                                                                    
     digested  and   will  ultimately  kill  the   animal                                                                       
     typically   through   starvation.   There   have   been                                                                    
     countless cases  of birds dying from  ingesting plastic                                                                    
     fragments  found   on  beaches,   including  single-use                                                                    
     plastic  bags. Plastics  in the  ocean get  broken down                                                                    
     into microplastics,  which are  finding their  way into                                                                    
     our seafood, which  then finds its way  onto our plates                                                                    
        along with  whatever chemicals  are leaching  out of                                                                    
     the  plastic.   For  a   subsistence  state,   this  is                                                                    
     Our  resources  should  not be  succumbing  to  plastic                                                                    
     pollution and  our residents should  not have  to worry                                                                    
     about  their   health  after  enjoying   a  subsistence                                                                    
     Health and  well-being aside, plastic bag  pollution is                                                                    
     detrimental to  the aesthetic  of our  beautiful state.                                                                    
     Tourists come to Alaska to  experience some of the most                                                                    
     pristine wild  places in America,  not to  see plastic-                                                                    
     filled alders tarnishing our mountain-scapes.                                                                              
     It is  up to us as  a state to stop  needless pollution                                                                    
     and change  wasteful behavior. Alaskan  communities are                                                                    
     already stepping  up and taking control;  it's time the                                                                    
     state follows suit.                                                                                                        
     HB 264 is an effort  to reduce waste and pollution, and                                                                    
     protect  our  renewable  resources.  I  invite  you  to                                                                    
     discuss  this issue  with me  further and  urge you  to                                                                    
     support this legislation.                                                                                                  
MS.  DELANEY said  plastic  bags  are one  of  the major  plastic                                                               
offenders and are an easy target.   They are overused and readily                                                               
accessible,  flimsy, easily  windblown,  yet  easy to  substitute                                                               
with sturdier  cloth bags.   Plastic does not degrade;  it breaks                                                               
down into increasingly smaller pieces;  contaminants stick to the                                                               
pieces, which are  then consumed by plankton and  then work their                                                               
way  up the  food  chain.   Many toxins  are  fat soluble,  which                                                               
accumulate in animal tissue, such as in Alaska salmon.  She said                                                                
polychlorinated  biphenyl  (PCB)  are  a problem  in  the  marine                                                               
environment  and "one  of the  most common  exposure pathways  is                                                               
through  eating  fish."   She  said  one  study done  in  British                                                               
Columbia (B.C.) found that returning  adult salmon were ingesting                                                               
up to  91 microplastic particles per  day.  She said  globally an                                                               
estimated 100,000  whales, turtles, and seals  dies annually from                                                               
plastic.  She  noted that subsistence communities  in Alaska rely                                                               
on whale and seal for food.                                                                                                     
10:49:20 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. DELANEY asked the question:   "Why not an outright ban?"  She                                                               
said bans  tend to be  more common  nationally and "get  right to                                                               
the point."  The sponsor's rationale  was to give people a choice                                                               
to pay for a [plastic] bag or  buy a reusable bag.  She indicated                                                               
the reason  for the adjustment  period [under HB 264]  would help                                                               
people "transition  to alternatives."   She relayed  that revenue                                                               
was also an  issue.  She said the sponsor's  research showed that                                                               
a fee is effective in  reducing plastic waste.  Washington, D.C.,                                                               
and the  cities of Chicago and  Los Angeles found that  even with                                                               
modest fees of 5  to 10 cents, there were reductions  of 42 to 94                                                               
percent [in plastic bag use].                                                                                                   
MS. DELANEY pointed out variances  in legislation across the U.S.                                                               
Most  popular  seems   to  be  banning  then   plastic  bags  and                                                               
implementing  a fee  for paper  bags, thicker  plastic bags,  and                                                               
other types  of reusable bags.   She said Hawai'i has  a de facto                                                               
state ban  [on plastic  bags].  She  noted that  stores subsidize                                                               
their costs of  "free" bags by adjusting their prices.   She said                                                               
it  is  estimated that  the  bags  cost each  individual  $25-$50                                                               
annually.  There is a global  movement to ban plastic bags, which                                                               
have an estimated span of use  just 12 minutes long.  She pointed                                                               
out her own cloth bag, which  she uses every day, has lasted four                                                               
years, to  date.   She said  Kenya has a  strict ban,  mostly for                                                               
importers.   In the U.S.  there are 13  cities and 7  states that                                                               
charge a  fee for the  bags and 110 cities  and 18 states  with a                                                               
ban on plastic bags.  The  ban typically includes a fee for paper                                                               
and other reusable bags, she said.                                                                                              
MS.  DELANEY showed  a list  of Alaska  boroughs and  cities that                                                               
currently  have [regulations]:   Bethel  in 2010,  Hooper Bay  in                                                               
2010, Cordova  2016, Kodiak in  2018, and  Wasilla in 2018.   She                                                               
offered  her  understanding that  the  City  of Palmer  has  been                                                               
talking about a ban, as well as the City and Borough of Juneau.                                                                 
10:52:52 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  DELANEY  offered  a sectional  analysis,  [included  in  the                                                               
committee packet], which read as follows:                                                                                       
     Section 1:  Adds a new  section to AS  43.98Article  5:                                                                  
     Disposable Shopping  Bag Fees.  AS.43.98.080(a) imposes                                                                    
     a  fee  on  single-use  plastic  bags.  AS.43.98.080(b)                                                                    
     outlines plastic  bags that  do not  fall under  (a) of                                                                    
     this   section   and   so  are   permitted   for   use.                                                                    
     AS.43.98.080(c)  modifies  the   state  regulations  to                                                                    
     account  for when  a city  or  borough has  implemented                                                                    
     their   own   single-use   plastic   bag   regulations.                                                                    
     AS.43.98.080(d-f) outlines the  responsibilities of the                                                                    
     retailer.  AS.43.98.080(g) imposes  a penalty  for non-                                                                    
     compliance. AS.43.98.080(h)  outlines the dissemination                                                                    
     and  use  of  collected fees.  AS.43.98.080(i)  defines                                                                    
     terms used in this section.                                                                                                
     Section  2:  Adds  a  new   section  to  AS  46.06.  AS                                                                  
     46.06.145  explains  to   retailers  recycling  program                                                                    
     requirements for  single-use plastic bags  and outlines                                                                    
     penalties for non-compliance.                                                                                              
     Section 3: Adds an effective date of January 1, 2019.                                                                    
MS.  DELANEY said  the  fee  would be  20  cents; the  exceptions                                                               
include  bulk  food  bags,  ice bags,  and  newspaper  bags;  the                                                               
retailer must display  fees on the receipt and  may not reimburse                                                               
the fees;  the Department  of Revenue (DOR)  would deal  with any                                                               
violations; the state would get 75  percent of the fees, while 25                                                               
percent would  go back to  retailers to  help them deal  with the                                                               
associated costs  for the program.   Retailers would  be required                                                               
to  accept  plastic bags  for  recycling,  which she  noted  many                                                               
retailers already do.   The plastics bags would have  to show the                                                               
recycle symbol,  and reusable bags  must be visible  at checkout.                                                               
Fees for violation of the program  are outlined under HB 264, and                                                               
the  Department of  Environmental Conservation  (DEC) would  deal                                                               
with those  violations.  She noted  that the fiscal note  is $3.3                                                               
million to  the State of Alaska;  it could be up  to $6.5 million                                                               
if "it doesn't  deter people from buying bags."   Some deterrence                                                               
was assumed, hence the lower fiscal amount of $3.3 million.                                                                     
10:55:51 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  DELANEY,  in  response to  a  question  from  Representative                                                               
Kreiss-Tomkins,  said the  sponsor did  consider including  paper                                                               
bags in the  proposed legislation; however, the  thought was that                                                               
[plastic] would  be a good first  step.  In terms  of other forms                                                               
of plastic waste  and Styrofoam, she reemphasized how  easy it is                                                               
to  replace plastic  bags with  reusable bags.   She  pointed out                                                               
that  plastic  lids   on  beverage  cups  are  not   as  easy  to                                                               
substitute.   She said  animals consume bags,  which tend  to get                                                               
knotted  in  their  intestinal   tracks  and  slowly  starve  the                                                               
animals.  Plastic  bags have been found in  caribou stomachs, she                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE   KREISS-TOMKINS   suggested   that   a   reusable                                                               
"tumbler"  could replace  the need  for using  cups with  plastic                                                               
lids.   He asked if  there is data  showing that plastic  bags in                                                               
the  environment  are  more  prevalent  than  plastic  lids,  for                                                               
MS. DELANEY  said she would  need to research  the answer.   To a                                                               
follow-up  question,   she  said  she   is  not  aware   of  such                                                               
10:59:51 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. DELANEY responded to  questions from Representative Rauscher.                                                               
She  clarified  that the  aforementioned  $3.3  million would  be                                                               
brought  in   by  the   state;  the  cost   of  the   program  is                                                               
approximately  $222,000.   She reemphasized  that the  bags cause                                                               
harm  in the  ocean  because  they break  into  pieces [to  which                                                               
toxins are  attached] and then  are consumed by  ocean creatures.                                                               
She said  bags do not  biodegrade well  in Alaska, because  it is                                                               
too cold.  She  added, "Even in a warmer climate  - in landfill -                                                               
a biodegradable bag is not going to biodegrade."                                                                                
11:02:24 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE   JOSEPHSON,  to   Representative  Kreiss-Tomkins'                                                               
question about other  plastics, said he thinks the  half dozen or                                                               
so  communities  scattered  across  the state  that  have  banned                                                               
plastic  bags have  shown there  is  a willingness  of people  to                                                               
"deal with plastic bags" -  that there is something about plastic                                                               
bags people find offensive.                                                                                                     
11:03:17 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER   asked  if  there  is   any  documented                                                               
information showing how well [bans on plastic bags] are working.                                                                
MS. DELANEY said other than  the statistics she already mentioned                                                               
in her  presentation, she is  not sure  if any studies  have been                                                               
done in Alaska pertaining to the ban.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER  painted  a   picture  of  mayhem  in  a                                                               
reusable shopping  bag caused by  leaking meat and  bruised kiwis                                                               
making  their  way  on a  conveyor  belt  and  into  a car.    He                                                               
exclaimed, "I'm just  trying to wrap my head  around the reusable                                                               
bag thing.  ... I'm having a heartache with that thought."                                                                      
MS. DELANEY  noted that  under HB 264,  the smaller  plastic bags                                                               
used  to wrap  meat  and produce  would still  be  allowed.   She                                                               
added, "And further,  you can bleach and wash a  cloth bag, which                                                               
I've done repeatedly,  if that does happen where all  of the bags                                                               
you've used have torn and chaos has ensued."                                                                                    
11:06:40 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  LINCOLN noted  that Galena  and Emmonak  [had not                                                               
been mentioned]  as places that  had banned plastic bags  but are                                                               
on the list  included in the committee packet.   He asked if they                                                               
reverted the ban.                                                                                                               
MS.  DELANEY said  she is  not sure  but noted  there were  a few                                                               
communities that rescinded  their bans.  She said  the reason for                                                               
rescinding  a  ban   varies  by  community.     She  offered  her                                                               
understanding  that Homer  had lifted  its ban  because residents                                                               
there  had not  felt included  in the  process.   She offered  to                                                               
investigate Co-Chair  Lincoln's query  if he  would like  to list                                                               
specific communities.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  LINCOLN  asked  if  biodegradable  plastics  have                                                               
solved the problem  of plastic getting into the  ocean food chain                                                               
but not "blowing around on land."                                                                                               
MS. DELANEY  said biodegradable plastics  tend not  to biodegrade                                                               
in Alaska  because the climate  is not  right.  She  responded to                                                               
follow-up  questions  from Co-Chair  Lincoln.    She offered  her                                                               
understanding  that [biodegradable  plastic]  presents a  problem                                                               
for marine life.   She said she thinks the  caribou she mentioned                                                               
previously were  in Mat-Su on  one farm.   She said 20  cents was                                                               
"the  upper  limit of  the  common  legislation"; therefore,  the                                                               
sponsor chose to start there.   She said cost of living in Alaska                                                               
is generally higher,  and she offered her  understanding that the                                                               
bill sponsor is open to negotiating the fee.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LINCOLN  said he  thinks the  high cost  of living                                                               
could be a  reason not to set the  fee at the high end.   He said                                                               
one aspect  of HB 264 he  likes is that municipalities  and local                                                               
communities could "opt  in," but he asked  what consideration the                                                               
sponsor had  given to unincorporated communities  and communities                                                               
with only tribal governments.                                                                                                   
MS. DELANEY said she thinks  any local government could, under HB
264, "implement as they please."                                                                                                
11:10:34 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON  offered  his  understanding  that  the                                                               
proposed legislation  does speak to  an exemption where  there is                                                               
less   than  $100,000   in   gross   sales;  therefore,   smaller                                                               
communities would not be subject to the bill.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE LINCOLN asked for  assurance before being asked to                                                               
decide  on HB  264.   He  said $100,000  is  not that  high of  a                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON  said it requires a  cultural adjustment                                                               
to get a result, and he  stated his belief that "people would get                                                               
there."  He  said the City of Cordova "adopted  this as a policy"                                                               
and had  a "GoFundMe" account  where people contributed  to cloth                                                               
bags.   He  emphasized that  he is  not wedded  to having  a fee,                                                               
which he  indicated had been  designed to help achieve  a result.                                                               
He  said if  the  committee  wanted to  delve  into the  proposed                                                               
legislation and,  for example, change  the effective date  to not                                                               
go into effect  for two years, then the committee  would not "get                                                               
any grousing" from him.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE LINCOLN said he would keep  that in mind.  He said                                                               
he  thinks the  cultural and  financial adjustment  varies widely                                                               
across the state.   He stated, "I triple-  and quadruple-bag jars                                                               
of seal oil - you know, "AC" bags  - to make sure we don't make a                                                               
mess ....  It  might not be recycled and reused  in the ways that                                                               
are familiar to other places in  Alaska, but we use these plastic                                                               
bags a lot in  rural Alaska for a variety of  purposes."  He said                                                               
there  has been  "enthusiastic  effort" in  Kotzebue, Alaska,  to                                                               
recycle cans  "and things  like that,"  but the  cost of  life in                                                               
rural Alaska makes that more challenging than in urban settings.                                                                
11:14:17 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND asked  how  a fee  would  be applied  in                                                               
cities that have no sales tax.                                                                                                  
MS. DELANEY  said the fee  should show on the  customer's receipt                                                               
as another item  purchased.  She affirmed this  system would work                                                               
for DOR.   To a  follow-up question, she  said she would  have to                                                               
check to  ascertain whether Kodiak  being listed as a  place that                                                               
banned bags means the Borough of Kodiak or the City of Kodiak.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND echoed  Co-Chair Lincoln's  query as  to                                                               
whether Galena and Emmonak had repealed bans.                                                                                   
11:16:56 AM                                                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR  PARISH  asked  Ms.  Delaney to  find  out  why  certain                                                               
communities are no longer on the list.                                                                                          
11:17:09 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER asked if  HB 264 was "a revenue-generating                                                               
measure  to  address  an  issue"   or  "a  behavior  modification                                                               
11:17:42 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON  answered that the bill  is not designed                                                               
to raise  revenue but to achieve  a desired result.   He compared                                                               
it to legislation  that would reduce corporate  income tax, which                                                               
he said was  designed "to bring companies home ...."   He said he                                                               
thinks  revenue-generating legislation  often has  "that sort  of                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER asked why the  sponsor chose to set up the                                                               
administrative  aspect  of  HB 264  rather  than  simply  banning                                                               
[plastic bags].                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON  said he  loves the  idea and  would not                                                               
object if the  committee is interested in  moving that direction,                                                               
as  long  as the  effective  date  allows the  public  sufficient                                                               
notice.  He  pointed out the benefit of "raising  a little bit of                                                               
revenue" during  a fiscal crisis  but emphasized the goal  of the                                                               
proposed legislation  is to "mirror what  happened in Washington,                                                               
D.C., and Chicago and see a reduction because of ... the fee."                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  suggested  it  is  more  appropriate  to                                                               
debate a  ban and  "avoid those  costs."   He reflected  that the                                                               
sponsor indicated he  wanted to give people a  choice but offered                                                               
his understanding the  sponsor really wants to  ban plastic bags.                                                               
He said he  takes exception to that, because  people already have                                                               
a choice of whether to use a plastic or reusable bag.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE   SADDLER  asked   if   there  is   a  score   for                                                               
"environmental cost benefit"  of various types of bags.   He said                                                               
he thinks  the sponsor is  hearing from the committee  the desire                                                               
to "apply some objective standards  to this" and justify the cost                                                               
of taxation or a ban.                                                                                                           
11:21:20 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. DELANEY offered to research for an answer.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON,   in  response  to  a   question  from                                                               
Representative Saddler, said information  is readily available on                                                               
line highlighting  efforts to improve  the world by  reducing use                                                               
of plastics.                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  noted  that included  in  the  committee                                                               
packet  is  a  letter  to   Ms.  Delaney  from  Carol  Montgomery                                                               
referencing a "Zero  Waste Coalition Plastic Bag  Committee."  He                                                               
asked for more information.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON  said he and  Ms. Delaney had  talked at                                                               
length once with Ms. Montgomery,  who is instrumental in the Mat-                                                               
Su effort.   He offered  his understanding  that if the  group is                                                               
not hers, she is at least associated  with it.  He said he thinks                                                               
she is  available on line.   He noted that Bert  Cottle, Mayor of                                                               
Wasilla, had repeatedly  told him, "What you want is  a ban."  He                                                               
speculated  that  the  City  of Wasilla  must  have  undergone  a                                                               
serious effort  toward its goal  of banning plastic bags,  and he                                                               
said he  thinks the city  council vote was  6:1.  To  a follow-up                                                               
question,   he  recommended   Representative   Saddler  ask   Ms.                                                               
Montgomery,  who  runs  the  Zero  Waste  Coalition  Plastic  Bag                                                               
11:24:37 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  TALERICO  observed  that  one  state  has  banned                                                               
plastic  bags statewide,  while other  bans have  been done  on a                                                               
municipal level.   He remarked  that [the legislature]  serves as                                                               
"the  borough  assembly,  so  to   speak,"  for  the  unorganized                                                               
boroughs  of  Alaska.   He  asked  the  bill  sponsor if  he  had                                                               
considered focusing  the proposed legislation on  the unorganized                                                               
boroughs "just to  see if it might inspire  those other organized                                                               
municipal structures."                                                                                                          
11:25:32 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON  answered  no  but  said  the  idea  is                                                               
interesting.  He  concurred that the legislature  is the assembly                                                               
for  unorganized  boroughs, but  it  does  not  do much  in  that                                                               
regard, although he pondered, "Maybe we should."                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO said his  community made reusable bags to                                                               
hand out to people  who showed up at the polls to  vote.  He said                                                               
the effort resulted  in "a serious reduction in  our plastic bags                                                               
in our landfill."                                                                                                               
CO-CHAIR PARISH said he thinks that idea is wonderful.                                                                          
11:28:29 AM                                                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR PARISH opened public testimony on HB 264.                                                                              
11:29:01 AM                                                                                                                   
BIANCA  TINKER,  Environmental  Coordinator,  Native  Village  of                                                               
Hooper Bay,  stated that before  Hooper Bay banned  plastic bags,                                                               
there were a lot of bags  that floated around the tundra.  Hooper                                                               
Bay has  a fence around its  landfill, and the fence  has plastic                                                               
store bags on it, and some of the  bags get loose.  She said when                                                               
she  goes out  to  do subsistence  gathering,  she finds  plastic                                                               
bags.   She  relayed that  some people  in Hooper  Bay found  the                                                               
transition  to  no  plastic bag  use  challenging,  because  they                                                               
didn't  know  how  they  were going  to  carry  their  groceries;                                                               
however,  with  time  people  got  used  to  bringing  their  own                                                               
[reusable]  bags.    People  are  becoming  more  environmentally                                                               
aware.   She concluded, "So, we  support this bill; we  are in it                                                               
100 percent; we  believe that it will be a  really good (indisc.)                                                               
to the environment."                                                                                                            
11:32:38 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER expressed appreciation  to Ms. Tinker for                                                               
her testimony and  for the pride he said he  perceives she has in                                                               
her community.  In response to  Ms. Tinker, he shared that he had                                                               
been  involved in  the  construction  of a  new  church, a  youth                                                               
center, and several homes in Hooper Bay.                                                                                        
11:33:52 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  noted Ms. Tinker  had said she  worked in                                                               
the   Native  village   of   Hooper  Bay,   and   he  asked   for                                                               
MS. TINKER deferred to Mr. Murran.                                                                                              
11:34:20 AM                                                                                                                   
BERNARD MURRAN said  he is Ms. Tinker's assistant.   He explained                                                               
that the  Native Village  of Hooper Bay  is a  tribal government,                                                               
which in the past  has worked with the City of  Hooper Bay on the                                                               
ordinance of banning plastic bags;  he said there is a memorandum                                                               
of agreement.  There were plastic  bags all over the tundra.  One                                                               
time,  while butchering  a  seal, someone  found  the animal  had                                                               
eaten  a plastic  bag; it  was  found in  its stomach.   He  said                                                               
following the ban, people bought canvas bags to use.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER said  he would not anticipate  a huge cost                                                               
to change  over to  using canvas bags.   Nevertheless,  he asked,                                                               
"Is  that an  additional cost  that you  at Hooper  Bay would  be                                                               
willing  to pay  in  order ...  to eliminate  the  blight of  the                                                               
plastic bags?"                                                                                                                  
MR. MURRAN answered yes.                                                                                                        
11:36:40 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  MURRAN,   in  response  to  questions   from  Representative                                                               
Drummond, said  Hooper Bay banned  plastic bags in  October 2009.                                                               
At first people were  not "too wild about it."   He added that of                                                               
a community of  over 1,000, over 90 percent are  Yupik Eskimo and                                                               
do subsistence hunting.                                                                                                         
11:38:09 AM                                                                                                                   
NICHOLAS WALSH,  Hunting and  Fishing Guide, said  he has  been a                                                               
hunting and fishing  guide since the early '80s and  has seen the                                                               
impact  of  plastic  throughout the  tundra  and  throughout  the                                                               
state.   He has seen bears  ingest plastic bags and  birds caught                                                               
in bags.   In the water near  Prince of Wales and  Kodiak, he has                                                               
seen jellyfish  swimming through  plastic bags and  eagles trying                                                               
to fly  with plastic  bags around  their talons.   He said  it is                                                               
quite  devastating.   In response  to Representative  Saddler, he                                                               
confirmed  that he  has  heard comments  about  the plastic  from                                                               
those visitors to the state that  he guides.  He said long before                                                               
things washed up on the  beaches [of Alaska], following a tsunami                                                               
[on the  coast of Japan,  March 2011],  plastic bags were  on the                                                               
beaches  "literally   everywhere."    Even  with   a  ban  today,                                                               
generations will  be dealing with  the affects of plastic  on the                                                               
environment.  He  said he does not believe there  is such a thing                                                               
as a  truly biodegradable plastic bag  - not one that  would work                                                               
in Alaska's  cold climate or even  in a warmer climate.   He said                                                               
he has  been to Hawai'i  where he has  never heard any  local say                                                               
the plastic ban in that state  has been much of an inconvenience.                                                               
He  said  he   thinks  people  need  to  think   about  the  next                                                               
generation.   He proffered many  people see bags stuck  in trees,                                                               
but seeing  the affect on  animals begs  the question:   "Is this                                                               
stuff really  getting into our  food chain?"   He said  he thinks                                                               
this issue is "a no-brainer,"  and he remarked, "We're paying for                                                               
the plastic  bags."  To a  follow-up question, Mr. Walsh  said he                                                               
does not think  any client has told him he/she  is less likely to                                                               
come to Alaska [because of plastic use].                                                                                        
11:42:35 AM                                                                                                                   
PATRICIA FISHER, Participant,  Mid-Valley Recycling; Member, Mat-                                                               
Su  Zero Waste  Coalition,  talked about  the  Mat-Su Zero  Waste                                                               
Coalition.   She  said there  are five  recycling centers  in the                                                               
Mat-Su  Valley,  and  volunteers   manage  those  sites.    Those                                                               
volunteers are the  people currently coming together  as the Mat-                                                               
Su Zero  Waste Coalition,  which "adopted the  idea of  a plastic                                                               
bag  ban."   Ms. Fisher  said Alaska's  environment is  suffering                                                               
because of plastic bag use,  which is why communities are passing                                                               
plastic bag  bans.  She said  in the news lately  there have been                                                               
reports from scientists saying there  will be more plastic in the                                                               
ocean than fish  in the not-too-distant future.   She opined that                                                               
is it  time to make the  effort [to ban plastic  bag use] because                                                               
plastic is in  food, is detrimental to health,  and will severely                                                               
affect  children.   She said  the time  is right  to ban  plastic                                                               
bags.   She stated, "The  Mat-Su Valley is a  conservative place,                                                               
and  yet wherever  we went  as a  plastic bag  campaign, ...  the                                                               
attitude of  the majority  of people  was approval  of a  ban and                                                               
recognition of  the need for a  ban."  She said  the Wasilla City                                                               
Council voted 5:1 in favor of the  ban.  She said the attitude of                                                               
the  public is  that  plastic bags  are a  huge  problem and  the                                                               
problem needs  to be  addressed.   She offered  her understanding                                                               
that citizens are concerned about  the environment, and she urged                                                               
the committee to move HB 264 forward.                                                                                           
11:45:38 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  FISHER, in  response to  Representative Rauscher,  explained                                                               
that  the Mat-Su  borough, as  a second-class  borough, had  some                                                               
difficulty augmenting  an outright ban.   There are  legal issues                                                               
as to  how it  should be  done.  The  issue was  put aside  for a                                                               
while until  the mayor  brought people to  testify.   After that,                                                               
the borough removed its original  [regulation], so it will not be                                                               
considered.  She said, "There is a  movement by some of us to ask                                                               
the borough  to do a  ban directly, which has  to be voted  on by                                                               
the people,  I believe, but that's  down the road.   I don't know                                                               
for sure that that's what's going to happen on that."                                                                           
MS.  FISHER, in  response  to Representative  Saddler, said  Mid-                                                               
Valley Recycling  has about  20 people who  come out  monthly for                                                               
recycling.   She said recyclers  get together and talk,  and they                                                               
formed  the Zero  Waste Coalition  comprising members  of various                                                               
recycling groups.   The coalition  is not a 501(c)(3);  there are                                                               
20-30 people on  the e-mailing list; and about 10  people come to                                                               
a  meeting  at any  given  time.    In  response to  a  follow-up                                                               
question, she said the Zero Waste  Coalition started a year and a                                                               
half ago; there  is a plastic bag committee within  it with about                                                               
the same number of people.   She indicated that members worked on                                                               
the plastic bag campaign since October 2016.                                                                                    
11:50:48 AM                                                                                                                   
LIZBETH JACKSON  testified that  she is  a lifelong  Alaskan, who                                                               
owns  Hatcher Pass  Bed &  Breakfast.   She said  people come  to                                                               
Alaska to enjoy the beauty of  the state, and the last thing they                                                               
want  to see  is a  plastic bag  "tangled up  in a  rose bush  or                                                               
clinging to  a fence."   She said tourism generates  an estimated                                                               
$856 million  annually in Southcentral  Alaska and  serves 19,700                                                               
people.   She spoke of  protecting the beauty of  nature "without                                                               
any  plastic  bags."   Ms.  Jackson  opined  that  HB 264  is  "a                                                               
wonderful start"  for keeping plastic  out of the landscape.   In                                                               
response to  Representative Saddler,  she said  the next  step in                                                               
making  Alaska  an attractive  destination  would  be to  address                                                               
other forms of plastic [and  Styrofoam] trash, such as single use                                                               
plastic  water bottles  and cheap  coolers.   She said  she would                                                               
like to see more done to  reduce plastic use, because it pollutes                                                               
oceans  and waterways  and affects  marine life.   She  indicated                                                               
that  [legislation such  as HB  264] is  creating a  conversation                                                               
wherein  people stop  to think  about  whether they  need to  use                                                               
plastic  bags rather  than being  a community  that disposes  the                                                               
things  it uses.    In response  to a  follow-up  question as  to                                                               
whether  passage  of  HB  264   could  lead  to  future  proposed                                                               
legislation  to ban  plastic water  bottles, she  said, "I  don't                                                               
know how we'd  do that."  She  indicated that if she  saw it done                                                               
effectively than  she could [foresee  legislation to  ban plastic                                                               
water bottles].                                                                                                                 
11:55:42 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER thanked  Ms.  Jackson, his  constituent,                                                               
for her testimony.                                                                                                              
11:56:41 AM                                                                                                                   
CAROL  MONTGOMERY, Chair,  Plastic Bag  Committee, Mat-Su  [Zero]                                                               
Waste  Coalition, suggested  amendments to  HB 264.   First,  she                                                               
asked that the  bill ban plastic bags to be  "consistent with the                                                               
growing number  of local  plastic bag laws  in Alaska."   Second,                                                               
she said  she would like the  committee to apply the  20-cent fee                                                               
to all  carry-out bags, "including the  so-called reusable ones."                                                               
She said  as the  proposed bill  currently is  written, consumers                                                               
would have a choice to pay a  20-cent fee for a disposable bag or                                                               
accept  a thicker  "reusable" bag.    She pointed  out that  most                                                               
stores generally  offer those bags  for no charge when  there are                                                               
bag bans.   She questioned  why any  customer would pay  20 cents                                                               
for  a  bag  when  he/she  could get  "a  nicer  one"  for  free;                                                               
therefore,  she said  HB 264  would result  in an  elimination of                                                               
disposable bags from the marketplace - a de facto ban.                                                                          
MS. MONTGOMERY  said there  is a groundswell  of support  for the                                                               
ban  of  plastic bags.    She  said  Glen Allen,  Alaska,  banned                                                               
plastic bags  by petitioning its  local supermarket,  because the                                                               
community does  not have a  local government.  She  said amending                                                               
HB 264  to ban  disposable bags  rather than  charging a  fee for                                                               
them  would make  the proposed  legislation  consistent with  and                                                               
supportive  of existing  local laws,  and she  stated her  belief                                                               
that this would "reduce confusion."                                                                                             
MS. MONTGOMERY  opined that it  would be more affective  to apply                                                               
the proposed  fee to the bags  that would be used  to replace the                                                               
disposable ones.   She  said HB 264  would charge  for disposable                                                               
bags but  offer "a free  pass" on  "reusable" plastic bags.   She                                                               
said a  common misconception  is that  reusable bags  get reused,                                                               
but the  definition of reusable  bags includes plastic  bags that                                                               
are  thicker then  2.25 mils,  which makes  them less  flimsy and                                                               
capable of carrying  more weight.  The slightly  thicker bags are                                                               
the least  expensive alternative for  retailers.  In  Chicago and                                                               
California  and Hawai'i,  where  Ms.  Montgomery said  single-use                                                               
plastic shopping  bags were banned,  customers have  no incentive                                                               
to reuse the  thicker bags, because they are being  given them at                                                               
no charge every  time they go through a checkout  line.  Chicago,                                                               
California, and Hawai'i  had to create further laws to  add a fee                                                               
for the  reusable bags.  She  said she has spoken  with corporate                                                               
representatives, including  those from Walmart,  Kroger, Safeway,                                                               
Fred  Meyer,  and Carrs,  and  has  been  told they  support  any                                                               
legislation desired by  a community but ask that  any plastic bag                                                               
ban include a mandated "pass-through  fee" for the bags that will                                                               
be  used to  replace the  disposable bags,  because the  bags are                                                               
expensive and  they don't want  to be  the first store  to charge                                                               
for the bags.                                                                                                                   
12:02:42 PM                                                                                                                   
MOLLIE BOYER, Executive Director,  Valley Community for Recycling                                                               
Solutions, testified in  support of the effort through  HB 264 to                                                               
reduce the negative impacts of plastic  bags in Alaska.  She said                                                               
four  years  ago,  third-graders  attending a  field  trip  at  a                                                               
recycling center  learned about what  plastics are made  from and                                                               
which plastics can  be recycled.  One of  the participants shared                                                               
that earlier  that day the  class had  gone to the  University of                                                               
Alaska   Fairbanks  (UAF)   Experimental  Farm   and,  during   a                                                               
presentation  there, were  shown  plastic bags  that were  pulled                                                               
from a  caribou stomach that  morning.   Ms. Boyer said  this was                                                               
the first the recycling center had  heard of this happening.  She                                                               
found  out  this is  "normal."    The researcher  collects  loose                                                               
plastic  from around  the farm,  but two  caribou have  died from                                                               
blockage.   She said  he has  also pulled  plastic bags  from the                                                               
stomach of a moose,  but he is not aware of  any moose dying from                                                               
consumption  of plastic.   Ms.  Boyer  said plastic  bags do  not                                                               
decompose;  they  can  only   photodegrade,  breaking  down  into                                                               
smaller pieces of  plastic when exposed to sun.   In the darkness                                                               
of a  stomach, the bags cannot  even break down.   She said those                                                               
third-grade  fieldtrip participants  lead  those  working at  the                                                               
recycling  center  to  understand  that plastic  is  not  just  a                                                               
problem in oceans  but also on land, in neighborhoods.   She said                                                               
the recycling center  has shared the story and  continues to hear                                                               
stories about animals dying from  blockage, including reindeer at                                                               
a local  bed and  breakfast.   Local dogs and  a horse  have also                                                               
died from ingesting  plastic.  A nurse in Anchorage  said she has                                                               
treated toddlers for blockage caused  by sucking on and ingesting                                                               
plastic.   She  said unfortunately  death from  ingesting plastic                                                               
can  be confirmed  only by  performing  a necropsy,  which is  an                                                               
expensive procedure.                                                                                                            
MS. BOYER continued as follows:                                                                                                 
     From  the impacts  on state  economics via  the fishing                                                                    
     industry and  tourism to  livestock and  subsistence to                                                                    
     the health of  our pets and our  children, the negative                                                                    
     impacts from plastic bags are  real.  They are not just                                                                    
     unsightly;   they  are   deadly,   out   loos  in   our                                                                    
     environment.  This is an  important issue for the State                                                                    
     of  Alaska to  address for  the long-term  good of  all                                                                    
     Alaskans.   Thank you for  working on  this legislation                                                                    
     and  thank   you  to  the  children   for  raising  our                                                                    
     awareness.  Let's show them that we can do better.                                                                         
12:06:36 PM                                                                                                                   
MARY NANUWAK  opined that it  is not  only the shopping  bag that                                                               
should  be   recycled.    She   said  there  are  all   types  of                                                               
environmental contaminants,  including paper,  plastic, cigarette                                                               
butts,  feces, and  urine.   She said  she cannot  understand why                                                               
these  should be  [addressed] separately.   She  added, "I  think                                                               
these should  all be together  so that  money can be  saved, time                                                               
can be  saved, stress  can be saved,  frustration can  be saved."                                                               
She said it  seems that when there is contamination  of any sort,                                                               
the indigenous  people are always  blamed, when, she  stated, "We                                                               
are  the coolest  conservationists."   She  said Native  Alaskans                                                               
take containers to collect [waste] when  on the water or on land,                                                               
and they  always "end up  more with  trash - with  contaminates -                                                               
than  what we  go  (indisc.)  for, and  I  think everyone  should                                                               
(indisc.) that."   Ms. Nanuwak talked  about putting intelligence                                                               
to  use, and  she stressed  education and  prevention.   She said                                                               
contamination goes everywhere  - it does not stay in  one place -                                                               
and she  often wonders  when intelligent  (indisc.) are  going to                                                               
see the  affects [of contamination].   She said  contaminates are                                                               
going "to  increase a whole  lot because of the  global warming,"                                                               
the effects  of which she said  everyone has been ignoring.   She                                                               
questioned why  people cannot  see the  connections.   Nothing is                                                               
constant;  everything   is  changing;  and  often   changes  have                                                               
negative effects, she concluded.                                                                                                
12:11:43 PM                                                                                                                   
CAROL  HOOVER,  Eyak  Preservation  Council  (EPC),  stated  that                                                               
Cordova has a  ban on both plastic bags and  Styrofoam.  She said                                                               
fishermen would purchase  food and put them in  double and triple                                                               
bags.  She said there was  a landfill fire that maintained itself                                                               
for four  months because of  plastic bags.   She said  there were                                                               
plastic bags  floating in the harbor.   She relayed that  EPC and                                                               
some  high school  students began  a movement  for a  plastic bag                                                               
ban.  They  printed 1,000 canvas bags, on which  were messages to                                                               
reduce,  reuse,  and  recycle.    They  gave  the  bags  away  to                                                               
residents and the fishermen.  They  utilized the press to get the                                                               
message out  that [using  plastic bags]  is a  habit that  can be                                                               
broken.   She said the  initiative passed.   She said she  is not                                                               
certain how Cordova's  initiative will meld with HB  264, but now                                                               
fishermen bring  their own  bags and  boxes to  store food.   She                                                               
said one of the biggest allies  were the people who worked in the                                                               
refuse department  in Cordova.   She relayed  there was a  lot of                                                               
grumbling about  [the ban] at  first, but now people  remember to                                                               
carry  their  bags.    She  opined that  the  testimony  [of  Ms.                                                               
Nanuwak] was  wise.   She remarked that  people should  not drink                                                               
from plastic bottles  that have been sitting in  the sun, because                                                               
there is a form  of estrogen in it that is not healthy  - it is a                                                               
carcinogen.   She  said  she  has not  heard  anything [in  other                                                               
people's testimony] with  which she would disagree.   She said it                                                               
would be  great if  Alaska led  the way  in banning  plastic bags                                                               
"for all the reasons that have  been stated."  She commented that                                                               
one of  the first countries  that banned plastic bags  was China.                                                               
She thanked the committee for its consideration of HB 264.                                                                      
12:16:42 PM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER noted he had sent  a text to Jim Sykes, a                                                               
member of  the Mat-Su  Borough Assembly,  to inquire  whether the                                                               
borough was  trying to  accomplish a ban  or a tax.   He  said he                                                               
received a  response indicating that  the borough had  voted down                                                               
the tax and may or may not take up the idea of a ban.                                                                           
12:17:26 PM                                                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR PARISH announced that he  would hold public testimony on                                                               
HB 264 open.                                                                                                                    
[HB 264 was held over.]                                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB264 Sponsor Statement 1.22.18.pdf HCRA 2/10/2018 10:00:00 AM
HB 264
HB264 ver J 1.22.18.pdf HCRA 2/10/2018 10:00:00 AM
HB 264
HB264 Sectional Analysis 1.22.18.pdf HCRA 2/10/2018 10:00:00 AM
HB 264
HB264 Fiscal Note DOR-TAX-1-28-18.pdf HCRA 2/10/2018 10:00:00 AM
HB 264
HB264 Supporting Documents-Article ADN (2003) 1.22.18.pdf HCRA 2/10/2018 10:00:00 AM
HB 264
HB264 Supporting Documents-Article ADN (2016) 1.22.18.pdf HCRA 2/10/2018 10:00:00 AM
HB 264
HB264 Supporting Documents-Article Frontiersman 1.22.18.pdf HCRA 2/10/2018 10:00:00 AM
HB 264
HB264 Supporting Documents-Article Midnight Sun 1.22.18.pdf HCRA 2/10/2018 10:00:00 AM
HB 264
HB264 Supporting Documents-Article News Miner 1.22.18.pdf HCRA 2/10/2018 10:00:00 AM
HB 264
HB264 Supporting Documents-Support Letters 1.22.18.pdf HCRA 2/10/2018 10:00:00 AM
HB 264
HB264 Supporting Documents-Article Plastic Bag Laws 1.22.18.pdf HCRA 2/10/2018 10:00:00 AM
HB 264
HB264 Supporting Document - Testimony 2.10.18.pdf HCRA 2/10/2018 10:00:00 AM
HB 264
HB264 Additional Document - Member Q&A 2.10.18.pdf HCRA 2/10/2018 10:00:00 AM
HB 264