February 18, 2011: The State of Washington, USA, has, not one, but two bills introduced in the 2011 Regular Session of the 62nd Legislature that would regulate plastic bags throughout the state.
Does either bill stand a chance at passing? Will either of the two bills gain traction? As I've stated before, I am not a politician so only time will tell.
The first bill, HB 1877, was introduced by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon & Rep. Marko Liias. The first reading of HB 1877 was on February 8 and was then referred to the Environment, Water & Energy Committee.
HB 1877 states: retail stores may only provide checkout bags that are made of
* reusable machine-washable textile materials; or
* reusable plastic that is at least 2.25 mils thick and is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse; or
* checkout bags that satisfy the definition of recycled paper bags if the customer makes payment to the store for the use of the recycled paper bag in an amount not less than five cents per recycled paper bag.
The bill specifically defines "checkout bag" as a bag provided by a retail store to a customer at the point of sale. Though the bill contains an extensive list of definitions of terms and words used in the bill, there is no definition of "retail store". Therefore, it is to be assumed that the bill applies to any type retail store.
HB 1877 does exclude the following:
* a customer purchasing a product marked with health information or other confidential information;
* a customer using a voucher issued by the United States department of agriculture under the women, infants, and children program;
* a customer using benefits known as food stamps as provided under RCW 74.04.500;
* a customer purchasing cooked foods.
HB 1877 would also prohibit any local government from imposing a tax or fee of any kind on any product satisfying the definition of checkout bag.
The second bill, SB 5780 was introduced by Senator Maralyn Chase and Senator Adam Kline. The first reading of SB 5780 occurred on February 11th and was referred to the Committee on Environment, Water and Energy.
SB 5780 basically prohibits owners and operators of retail stores from providing certain carryout bags. There is not a lot of language in this bill.
The bill simply states: A person who owns or operates a retail store may not provide a carryout bag for free or for charge to a consumer unless the carryout bag is either a compostable plastic carryout bag, a recyclable paper carryout bag, or a reusable carryout bag.
"Retail Store" is defined as a place of business for the sale of goods or commodities directly to consumers.
This law also limits what local governments can impose on carryout bags. SB 5780 states: Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to retail store carryout bags that are consistent with this chapter. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law may not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such a city, town, county, or municipality.
Currently, the City of Edmonds is the only city in the state of Washington that has passed a plastic bag ordinance.