Boswell introduces bill in state House to repeal plastic bag ban

By on March 7, 2017

The ban started July 1, 2009. (Craig Abraham, The Age)

Rep. Beverly Boswell (R-Dare) introduced a bill Tuesday in the N.C. House of Representatives that would repeal the ban on the use of plastic shopping bags by all stores on the Outer Banks.

The prohibition was initially instituted for larger retailers on the barrier islands from Corolla to Ocracoke in 2009, and then expanded to all businesses the following year.

It also required retailers to offer recyclable paper bags and to give a 5-cent rebate for each re-usable bag a customer provides.

The ban was championed by then-Senate leader Marc Basnight, D-Dare, as an effort to cut down on the use of the bags, promoted the bag ban bill primarily as a way to keep the barrier islands’ beaches and waterways cleaner.

Conservation groups said the thin bags, made of carbon-based polyethylene, were known to harm marine life, especially sea turtles.

Public works officials noted five years after the ban was instituted that they saw a decrease in the amount of litter from the bags blowing around in some areas of the Outer Banks.

More than 125 communities around the country have approved their own bans on plastic bags.

“The General Assembly finds that businesses have expended substantial capital to comply with this prohibition during a difficult economy when this capital could have been utilized to hire additional employees or expand their businesses,” according to House Bill 271.

A nearly identical bill was introduced in the state Senate in 2011, the same year that Republicans took control of the General Assembly and Basnight resigned for health reasons.

That bill stalled, but there was an attempt to include it in the state budget for fiscal years 2011-12. That language was taken out of the final version of the spending package.

Wording in the new legislation nearly mirrors the previous bill, noting that Texas, Florida and Virginia have instituted voluntary educational programs for the public about the importance of recycling bags statewide.

The bill appears to have significant support from the Republican leadership in the House, with House majority leader John Bell, IV (R-Craven) and House deputy majority whip John Bradford, III (R-Mecklenburg) joining Boswell as primary sponsors.

If approved, it would go into effect on July 1.

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