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Eye On Boise

House passes plastic bag pre-emption bill, 52-17

The House has voted 52-17 in favor of HB 372, legislation to prevent Idaho cities, counties or other local governments from banning or taxing plastic grocery bags or other types of containers. Rep. Clark Kauffman, R-Filer, said, “This bill came from the Business Committee with unanimous support. This is a business-friendly bill all the way from the producer to the retailer to the consumer.”

House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, said, “Unfortunately, I missed that Business Committee meeting. So this would mean that if a city had problems with a surplus of plastic bags that were choking the water, their drainage water system, or that were a problem for their landfill, that city or county could not do anything about it, they would have to come to the Legislature for special legislation to let them deal with their own problem – is that correct?” Kauffman responded, “That’s correct.”

“There are certain things that we believe that the discussion should happen at the state level,” Kauffman told the House. “Pre-emption isn’t new for the state.” He noted that local municipalities already are foreclosed form regulating mining and timber, water quality, tax policy, guns, cultivation and processing of seeds and more.

Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, spoke in support of the bill. He told of traveling in another state and doing some shopping for his daughter. “In that state they had a prohibition in that city on plastic bags,” he said. “We walked in there with no bags, and all they wanted to do was sell us bags. I thought that was outrageous. … We’re going to have problems with people coming to our communities.”

Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, also debated in favor of the bill. “Remember, cities and counties are creatures of the state, they are not independent bodies, they’re creatures of the state,” he said. “The state not only has the power and the authority, but the responsibility to make sure that many things are regulated in a uniform manner across the state, and this is just one of those.”

All 14 House Democrats voted against the bill; they were joined by two Republicans, Reps. Paul Romrell of St. Anthony, Van Burtenshaw of Terreton and Julie VanOrden of Pingree. The measure now moves to the Senate side.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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