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Bill Prohibiting Local Plastic Bag Bans Heads To House Vote

Utah State Capitol
KPCW Radio

The House Natural Resources Committee voted 6-4 to advance House Bill 320Monday. Spanish Fork Republican Rep. Mike McKell first presented the Container Regulation Act last Friday, but the committee ran out of time for discussion, and it was held for a later hearing.

One legislator proposed an amendment to allow communities that already have a ban in place, specifically Park City and Moab, to be exempt from the prohibition outlined in HB 320. Committee members didn’t give much consideration to the amendment, saying it would create inconsistency in the marketplace.

Most of the members of the public who testified fell into two camps: those who were concerned about the environmental impacts of the bill, and those who were concerned about the impacts of locally legislated plastic bans on businesses. Several members of the activism group SLC Air Protectors pointed to the effects of plastic waste on the planet, while a representative from the Utah Retail Merchants Association said it was challenging to businesses with locations across the state to comply with different ordinances from city to city.

Park City Mayor Andy Beerman told KPCW earlier this week that the city would let the League of Cities and Towns take the lead on the bill. League Government Relations Director Rachel Otto testified that HB320 restricts local authority and is a one-size-fits-all approach to a problem best addressed locally. Otto also says that Park City and Moab didn’t ask for the amendment that would exempt them from HB 320.  

“This bill for us is about the preemption—it’s not about the plastic," Otto said. "I know that this committee, above all other committees at the Legislature, perhaps, understands the concept of local control. You talk about it all the time, and I know that you’re fierce defenders of local control here. That’s why it’s consistent for you to reject this bill.”

District 53 Rep. Logan Wilde, the vice chair of the House Natural Resources Committee and a representative for Park City, voted against HB 320. It will next be heard by the full House.

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.