Cook tacks bag ban repeal onto environmental regs reform bill

By on April 3, 2017

(Coastal Review Online)

A bill introduced in the state Senate last week that would make changes to several environmentally-related state regulations includes repealing the ban on single-use, thin plastic shopping bags.

Senate Bill 539, filed Thursday by Sens. Bill Cook (R-Beaufort), Norman Sanderson (R-Onslow) and Andrew Brock (R-Davie), would strike down the bag ban from Corolla to Ocracoke that was passed by the N.C. General Assembly eight years ago.

The proposal in the Senate follows a bill introduced by Rep. Beverly Boswell (R-Dare) in the N.C. House of Representatives on March 7.

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Support for the repeal has come from the N.C. Retail Merchants Association, and Sen. Cook’s office said the legislation was introduced in both chambers at the request of several larger retailers with locations on the Outer Banks.

Passed in 2009, the law initially blocked larger retailers on the barrier islands from Corolla to Ocracoke from using the bags, then expanded the prohibition to all businesses the following year. It also requires retailers to offer recyclable paper bags and to give a rebate or other incentive 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 and promoted primarily as a way to keep the barrier islands’ beaches and waterways cleaner.

While Cook and Boswell, who both represent the Dare and Hyde county sections of the barrier islands, have sponsored the bills, Rep. Bob Steinburg (R-Chowan), whose district includes the Currituck County sections, has said he will vote against a repeal.

A number of owners of local stores have voiced their opposition to a repeal, while The Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce issued a statement against reversing the ban on behalf of its 1,100 members.

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Kill Devil Hills and Southern Shores have passed resolutions opposing a roll back. Commissioners in Nags Head and Dare County are also scheduled to vote on resolutions this week.

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