Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124

04/04/2018 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
Moved CSHB 262(L&C) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 230 Out of Committee
              HB 264-SHOPPING BAG FEES & RECYCLING                                                                          
4:00:00 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."                                                                                               
4:00:49 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL moved to adopt the  CS to HB 264 as a working                                                               
document.  There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                         
4:01:17 PM                                                                                                                    
CAITLYN  ELLIS,  Staff,  Representative Sam  Kito,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, presented  the CS to HB  264 on behalf of  the House                                                               
Labor  and  Commerce Standing  Committee.    She paraphrased  the                                                               
summary of  changes [included in  committee packet],  which reads                                                               
as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                     
     1.  Title:  from   "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."  to  "An Act  prohibiting  disposable                                                                    
     plastic shopping bags; relating  to a minimum price for                                                                    
     paper and other shopping bags;  relating to the sale of                                                                    
     reusable shopping bags; and  providing for an effective                                                                    
     2. Removes  the fee for  single-use bags and  creates a                                                                    
     ban for single-use (disposable) plastic bags.                                                                              
     3.  Establishes a  minimum 10-cent  fee  for all  other                                                                    
     bags (plastic, reusable). The  retail seller keeps 100%                                                                    
     of this fee. Its purpose  is to prevent a loophole that                                                                    
     would allow  store to give  away thick plastic  bags in                                                                    
     lieu of single-use plastic bags.                                                                                           
     4. Removes  the exemption for communities  of less than                                                                    
     5,500 persons.                                                                                                             
     5.  Removes the  18-pound  weight capacity  requirement                                                                    
     for reusable bags.                                                                                                         
4:02:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL  asked  whether   the  proposed  bill  would                                                               
require restaurants to charge for  plastic bags used for take-out                                                               
orders and "doggy bags".                                                                                                        
MS.  ELLIS  answered  that  was  not  addressed  in  the  current                                                               
proposed legislation.                                                                                                           
4:04:43 PM                                                                                                                    
SUZANNE COHEN, 350  Juneau, testified in support of HB  264.  She                                                               
said the  only way to change  behavior is to establish  a fee for                                                               
plastic bags.   She said Denmark  had seen a drop  in usage after                                                               
establishing a ban.   She listed countries and  cities which have                                                               
established fees or bans on  plastic bags.  She addressed impacts                                                               
on wildlife.                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL  asked whether  members  of  350 Juneau  are                                                               
small business  owners. He  asked about  being charged  extra for                                                               
the bags.                                                                                                                       
MS. COHEN answered that she and  her husband own a small business                                                               
and described their  efforts to reduce usage by  reusing the bags                                                               
their stock comes in.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP  asked  whether the  group  had  approached                                                               
local authorities about the restriction.                                                                                        
MS. COHEN  answered the  organization was a  recent entity.   She                                                               
said there had been a push which had failed previously.                                                                         
CHAIR KITO brought up Styrofoam  packages and asked whether those                                                               
were being addressed by the organization.                                                                                       
MS. COHEN said  the parent organization is very  much sticking to                                                               
climate issues.   She said  she did  not think it  was addressing                                                               
4:11:40 PM                                                                                                                    
KATHIE  WASSERMAN, Executive  Director,  Alaska Municipal  League                                                               
(AML), testified  in the hearing  HB 264.   She said the  AML has                                                               
discussed  the issue  at length  and it  was felt  [banning bags]                                                               
should be a  municipal issue.  She  underlined municipalities can                                                               
work  directly  with  local  businesses.    She  shared  personal                                                               
experience with ordering paper bags  which had to be shipped from                                                               
out  of state,  adding to  the  carbon impact,  whereas only  one                                                               
truckload was  needed for the same  number of plastic bags.   She                                                               
said AML  is not  opposed to  the concept but  feels it  can deal                                                               
with plastic bags on a local level.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON   listed  some  communities   that  are                                                               
actively looking  at the issue.   He asked Ms.  Wasserman whether                                                               
she  has seen  so many  significant communities  move in  a short                                                               
period of time over an issue.                                                                                                   
MS. WASSERMAN  said she  has seen  municipalities respond  to any                                                               
number of things.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  SULLIVAN-LEONARD  commented  that  Representative                                                               
Josephson had proved the point  that municipalities can deal with                                                               
the issue locally.                                                                                                              
4:16:19 PM                                                                                                                    
MARY VAVIRK  testified in support  of HB 264.   She spoke  to the                                                               
unsightly effects of plastic bags in the environment.                                                                           
4:17:52 PM                                                                                                                    
LISBETH JACKSON  testified in support  of HB  264.  She  spoke to                                                               
the unsightly effects  of plastic bags and to  the health issues.                                                               
She  said  it is  a  state  issue.    She mentioned  the  tourist                                                               
industry and [the importance of] keeping the area beautiful.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  asked whether Ms.  Jackson uses bags  in her                                                               
MS.  JACKSON answered  that  she  doesn't use  bags  for her  B&B                                                               
business. She said she does use plastic bags for garbage.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked  whether she lives in  a community that                                                               
bans bags.                                                                                                                      
MS. JACKSON said she lives near Palmer, Alaska.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked about charges for bags.                                                                               
MS. JACKSON  answered there  was never a  fee instituted  for the                                                               
bag ban in the city of Wasilla, Alaska.                                                                                         
4:21:28 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHELLE PUTZ, Bags  for Change, testified in support  of HB 264.                                                               
She said the Sitka, Alaska, assembly  was working on a bag ban or                                                               
fee.   She said the effort  was to move people  to reusable bags,                                                               
not paper.  She  said a fee on paper bags  would help the plastic                                                               
bag ban  "in court."   She  spoke to the  toxins in  plastics and                                                               
health  issues.   She mentioned  a boat  incident due  to plastic                                                               
bags in the  ocean.  She spoke to local  businesses' reactions to                                                               
a bag fee.                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON  asked  how  someone's  litigation  has                                                               
benefited by a ban on plastic bags.                                                                                             
MS. PUTZ answered  there was a court case in  California in which                                                               
the plastic  companies tried to sue,  but because they had  a fee                                                               
on paper bags as well, the fee on the paper bags protected them                                                                 
4:25:47 PM                                                                                                                    
SOPHIA TIDLER,  Member, Anchorage Waterway Council,  testified in                                                               
support HB 264.  She  said the council organizes waterway cleanup                                                               
and the  amount of  plastics collected is  unsettling.   She said                                                               
many  communities support  the ban  or  fee.   She said  consumer                                                               
behavior change is why she supports  the proposed bill.  She drew                                                               
parallels with  the fight for  equal rights  and the work  of Dr.                                                               
Martin Luther King, Jr.                                                                                                         
4:29:08 PM                                                                                                                    
MATT  SEAHOLM, American  Progressive Bag  Alliance, testified  in                                                               
opposition to HB 264.   He paraphrased from his written testimony                                                               
[included in committee packet],  which reads as follows [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
     On  behalf of  the  American  Progressive Bag  Alliance                                                                    
     (APBA), an  organization that represents  our country's                                                                    
     plastic retail  bag manufacturers and  recyclers, thank                                                                    
     you  for the  opportunity to  submit this  testimony to                                                                    
     share our collective concerns with  HB 264, which would                                                                    
     impose a regressive 20-cent  fee on disposable shopping                                                                    
     bags or as  is being reported in the  media, be amended                                                                    
     to ban all plastic retail bags.                                                                                            
     We  respect and  applaud Representatives  Josephson and                                                                    
     Drummond and others  for taking the goals  of waste and                                                                    
     litter   reduction  seriously.   We   share  a   common                                                                    
     commitment    to    environmental    stewardship    and                                                                    
     sustainability. Both  are critical to ensuring  that we                                                                    
     are protecting Alaska's natural beauty and are solid                                                                       
     business principles.                                                                                                       
     As   a  waste   reduction   measureand    not  just   a                                                                    
     fundraising billHB 264 is flawed. Bag bans and taxes                                                                       
     may lead to  fewer plastic retail bags  being used, but                                                                    
     similar  policies  have   never  delivered  significant                                                                    
     reductions in  overall waste  or litter.  Policies that                                                                    
     ban   plastic  bags   push   consumers   to  use   less                                                                    
     sustainable alternatives  by comparison, and  bag taxes                                                                    
     often impose  a regressive,  inequitable burden  on the                                                                    
     most income-sensitive residents.  That's a serious cost                                                                    
     to  consider  for  Alaska's hard-working  families  and                                                                    
     fixed  income seniors  who may  incur  higher costs  to                                                                    
     their grocery bills or be forced to buy more expensive                                                                     
     alternatives to highly reusable plastic retail bags.                                                                       
     Beyond the economic impact  for individual families and                                                                    
     shoppers, HB  264 would require  Alaska businessesmany                                                                     
     of whom  are APBA  members' customersto   track, report                                                                    
     and remit shopping bag tax  revenue to the state. These                                                                    
     additional    reporting,   training    and   compliance                                                                    
     obligations will  increase the  cost of  doing business                                                                    
     in Alaska.  Those higher  costs may  not be  covered by                                                                    
     the  25-percent  allowance  this  bill  designates  for                                                                    
     retailers  and could  end up  being passed  down as  an                                                                    
     additional  consumer  burden,  on top  of  the  initial                                                                    
     regressive transaction fee and ban.                                                                                        
     The  proposed  environmental   benefits  would  neither                                                                    
     relieve the burden on Alaska's fixed income families                                                                       
     and   seniors  nor   deliver  meaningful   outcomes  on                                                                    
     sustainability   efforts.    Environmental   Protection                                                                    
     Agency figures  show plastic retail bags  comprise just                                                                    
     0.5  percent of  national waste,  and national  studies                                                                    
     find the  same bags  account for less  than one  to two                                                                    
     percent of litter.                                                                                                         
     When   compared  side-by-side   to  its   alternatives,                                                                    
     plastic  retail  bags   are  the  most  environmentally                                                                    
     friendly choice. In relating  the life cycle impacts of                                                                    
     plastic to  the alternatives    paper and cloth  bags                                                                      
     University of Oregon professor David Tyler observed:                                                                       
          "There are really good  things about plastic bags                                                                     
          they produce  less greenhouse  gas, they  use less                                                                    
          water and  they use  far fewer  chemicals compared                                                                    
          to  paper or  cotton. The  carbon footprint   that                                                                    
          is, the amount of  greenhouse gas that is produced                                                                    
          during  the life  cycle of  a plastic  bagis  less                                                                    
          than that of a paper bag  or a cotton tote bag. If                                                                    
          the  most   important  environmental   impact  you                                                                    
          wanted to  alleviate was global warming,  then you                                                                    
          would go with plastic."                                                                                               
     Across  the country,  several  states  and cities  have                                                                    
     decided against implementing taxes  and bans on plastic                                                                    
     grocery bags  because of the  burden on the  public and                                                                    
     lack  of   environmental  benefits.  When   Denver,  CO                                                                    
     explored, and  ultimately rejected, a bag  ordinance in                                                                    
     2013,  the city's  Office of  Sustainability concluded,                                                                    
     "Single-use  bags of  all types  constitute well  under                                                                    
     one percent of all  waste delivered to landfills? There                                                                    
     are no substantiated claims that  a bag fee will result                                                                    
     in  entirely eliminating  even  this  tiny fraction  of                                                                    
     waste  sent to  landfills?  Concluding that  a bag  fee                                                                    
     will  make  a  substantial   dent  in  waste  going  to                                                                    
     landfills is  misguided." Likewise, voters  in Durango,                                                                    
     CO overturned a  10-cent bag fee in 2013,  and in 2014,                                                                    
     the Fort Collins, CO City  Council repealed their local                                                                    
     In Austin, TX, and Thurston County, WA, respectively, bag                                                                  
     laws actually led to more landfill waste from reusable bags                                                                
     and doubled the use of paper bags that use more resources.                                                                 
MR. SEACOLM  spoke to  studies in  Denmark comparing  plastic and                                                               
cotton bags, which  found that cotton bags have to  be used 7,100                                                               
times to offset the impact of all environmental indicators.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON  asked about  the bags described  in the                                                               
Denmark study.                                                                                                                  
4:34:28 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SEAHOLM  said the  plastic  used  in Europe  is  low-density                                                               
polyethylene and that is what was studied.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON asked  whether  the bags  were light  4                                                               
milligram bags.                                                                                                                 
MR. SEAHOLM answered a variety of bag thicknesses are used.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON spoke to the  effects of plastic bags in                                                               
caribou and reindeer stomachs.  He asked what the solution is.                                                                  
MR.  SEAHOLM answered  there  are other  alternatives.   He  said                                                               
recycling is  a big part of  it.  He spoke  to reuse.  He  said a                                                               
Quebec study  found that  77.7 percent  of bags  are reused.   He                                                               
said some  of that  is for  garbage or pet  waste.   He indicated                                                               
that the plastic bags in rivers  and streams makes up less than 1                                                               
percent.   He said some  communities found  that bans lead  to an                                                               
increase in litter and waste.                                                                                                   
4:38:05 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH  asked  about  technologies  that  can  aid                                                               
degrading of plastics.                                                                                                          
MR.  SEAHOLM  answered there  not  a  biodegradable option.    He                                                               
stated that  paper takes as long  to break down as  a plastic bag                                                               
4:39:44 PM                                                                                                                    
KAREN PERRY  testified in  opposition to HB  264.   She expressed                                                               
her strong opposition to HB 264.                                                                                                
4:40:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CAROL MONTGOMERY,  Matsu Zero Waste  Coalition, testified  in the                                                               
hearing on  HB 264.   She  gave an  update on  her organization's                                                               
activity since  her previous  testimony.   She said  plastic bags                                                               
are harmful in  part due to their light weight  which causes them                                                               
to "fly all over."  She encouraged statewide action.                                                                            
CHAIR KITO closed public testimony.                                                                                             
CHAIR KITO held over HB 264.                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB262 Amendment J.1.pdf HL&C 4/4/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 262
HB264 Supporting Document - Soldotna Resolution.pdf HL&C 4/4/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 264
HB264 Opposition Letters 3.10.18.pdf HL&C 4/4/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 264
SB125 Supporting Document-Letter from DEC Div. of Air Quality (Mar. 21, 2018).pdf HL&C 4/4/2018 3:15:00 PM
SB 125