State of Hawaii Senate Committe Agrees on Statewide Plastic Bag Fee

State of Hawaii Senate Committe Agrees on Statewide Plastic Bag Fee

Fee On Plastic And Paper Checkout Bags
Bill SB2511 RELATING TO ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION.
Summary of Bill: Requires businesses in the State to collect a fee for single-use checkout bags provided to a customer. Allows businesses to keep twenty per cent of the fees for the first year of the program and ten per cent of the fees thereafter, subject to income and general excises taxes. Requires fees to be collected on single-use checkout bags not prohibited by county ordinance. Deposits $800,000 annually of fees into a special account in the general fund for costs relating to the single-use checkout buy fee, $11,000,000 into the natural area reserves fund, and the remainder into the general fund. Requires reports to the legislature.

Energy and Environment Committee Hearing
Dept. of DLR spoke first and in favor of the bill. The bill would protect aquifers where fresh water comes from and be used for watershed protection. Gary Gill, Dep. Dir. of Dept. of Health in strong support of providing funding for DLNR because water starts with them. Ms. Pogue of Maui County spoke in protection of the watershed. Tax Foundation of Hawaii was in favor. Hawaii Food Industry in support. Mark Fox of Nature Conservancy in favor in order to get funds to support watersheds and aquifers. Robert Harris, Sierra Club noted the Girl Scouts project of displaying 400 bags on the lawn of the Capitol. Coalition of retailers in support.

Tamara Young, Pres. of Citizens for Equal Rights in Hawaii spoke in strong support of SB2511 and a full ban on plastic bags. "We've seen ocean life tangled up in plastic bags," stated Ms. Young. She spoke of clean up efforts of the ocean around the islands.

A ten year old student from Pearl City Highlands School spoke in strong support of the bill. Retail Merchants of Hawaii spoke in support of the bill. A student from the University of Hawaii spoke in support of the bill.

Safeway General Manager said the Safeway Stores support the bill. He said, "With the fee, it will work in the reduction of plastic bags. 30% of our customers have already switched to reusable bags."

Verizon Wireless representative said the company embraces the goals of the legislation. Part-time local citizen and environmental activist, Pat Gazimba, said, "I want to lodge my firm support of SB2511." She said the legislation would preserve Hawaii's natural environment.

A local citizen spoke in favor of SB2511. He said he became aware of the plastic problem after seeing the movie "Bag It".

League of Women Voters spoke in favor of the Bill. Student of University of Hawaii spoke in favor.

* If interested, click to read "testimonies" from various agencies and departments submitted to the Senate Committee. See testimonies from Dept. of Land and Natural Resources plus their proposed amendments along with Dept. of Health, Board of Water Supply, plus many others.

Of the four counties in Hawaii, three had already passed plastic bag legislation: Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii County.

The Committee, due to time limits, deferred the bill until Tuesday. So, in my opinion, the state of Hawaii will give us all a sweetheart Valentines Day gift. Hawaii will become the first state in the U.S. to place a statewide fee on plastic and paper bags.

UPDATE 2/14/12: On Valentines Day, the committee(s) on WLH recommend(s) that the measure be PASSED, WITH AMENDMENTS. The votes in WLH were as follows: 5 Aye(s): Senator(s) Dela Cruz, Fukunaga; Aye(s) with reservations: Senator(s) Solomon, Ryan, Tokuda ; 1 No(es): Senator(s) Slom; and 1 Excused: Senator(s) Shimabukuro.

If passed, the legislation will take effect on January 1st, 2013 and all retailers are affected. The initial fee will be ten cents per single-use checkout bag, however, if plastic bag usage is not reduced by 75% by by January 1st, 2016, the fee will increase to twenty-five cents per bag effective January 1st, 2017.

Read the Bill SB2511.

NOTE: Cover photo, Satellite view of Hawaii archipellago (USA). Credit: NASA