- The Arizona legislature is gearing up to avert a possible legal argument against a recently passed rule that prevents local municipalities from banning plastic bags and other containers. Tempe City Councilwoman Lauren Kuby and The Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest challenged SB 1241 in court, charging that the legislation is unconstitutional on two counts: The bill combined two unrelated subjects, and its title, "Relating to Energy Regulatory Prohibition," did not reflect its content.
- Representative Warren Peterson has introduced two new pieces of legislation: HB2130 and HB2131 that, if passed, will divide the provisions into two separate laws. He stated that the bills are "a matter of formality…to take away the argument about the single subject," as reported in Phoenix New Times.
- The bills' opponents have launched a citizens group to protest their "negative" economic and environmental effects.
Residents and politicians on either side of the argument have been quite outspoken, presenting what they believe are sound arguments for their stand on the bills — especially in a state that falls well below the national average 35% recycling rate.
Meanwhile, the plastic bags ban debate has fueled heat beyond Arizona. Environmentalists say the bags are burdening their landfills, littering their roads and waterways, and clogging recycling machinery. Conversely, the plastic bag industry said bans will have no environmental benefit but rather fill the pockets of retailers at shoppers’ expense. Huntington Beach, Ca, like those bucking the rule in Arizona, recently repealed its plastic bag ban.
Kuby is holding fast to her principals—that the law was flawed, as opposed to considering the argument over environmental impact of plastic bags.
"Single-use plastic bags and energy benchmarking have nothing in common and should have been addressed in separate bills," Kuby wrote. And "the title of the bill… fails to provide notice that it involves prohibiting cities from regulating single-use plastic bags."
Last year, she questioned the state for trying to pull the reigns in on cities’ authority. "How can a legislature that constantly derides the federal government for getting involved ... tell cities what to do in regard to waste management?"
But Peterson sees the contested rules as a plus: "This is exactly in line with my views on limited government and local government," he said. "We’re limiting government; critics just want to put a spin on that.”
Opposing citizens stated, “Not only do [the bills] limit local control — they crush it."