Vermont Legislators propose ban on plastic bags

by Rob Roper

Rep. Carolyn Partridge (D-Windham)

In past sessions, Vermont legislators have tried unsuccessfully to tax plastic bags dispensed by retail stores and take out joints. This year, two representatives from Windham County, Mike Obuchowski (D-Rockingham) and Carolyn Partridge (D-Windham) want to ban them entirely.

Their bill, H.19, finds that, among other things, “Plastic bags provided by retail stores, restaurants and grocery stores have a harmful effect o the environment of the state.” These two have therefore decided, “It is in the best interests of the citizens and the environment of Vermont to phase out the use of noncompostable plastic bags.” And, to that end, “Beginning July 2012, no retail establishment shall provide customers with plastic carry-out bags, and shall proved only compostable plastic bags, recyclable paper bags, or reusable bags for the purpose of carrying goods, foods, or other products…”

The penalty for violating this law would be $500.

It is doubtful H.19 will go anywhere, although Reps Obuchowski and Partridge are no back-benchers. Obuchowski, who stepped down last week to take a job with the Shumlin Administration as commissioner of the state Department of Buildings and General Services, was the longest serving member of the House. He has been Speaker of the House and, most recently, chairman of the powerful Ways & Means Committee.

Partridge has served as Majority Leader for the Democratic caucus, and is currently the chair of the Agricultural Committee.

Many of the bills that are introduced in the opening days of the legislature never make it “off the wall,” as saying goes. Some are good bills, some are bad bills, and some are just too off the wall, ironically, to make it off the wall. However, these bills do give insights into the thinking of the legislators who sponsor them, and what they’re really doing in your name, representing you under the Golden Dome.

Rep. Obuchowski’s leaving the house means Governor Shumlin will need to appoint a replacement. Constituents might want to ask those being considered what their stances are on the banning of plastic bags… along with everything else.

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You can peruse the bills proposed by Vermont’s Representatives and Senators at the links below:

All House Bills

All Senate Bills

Find Bills Sponsored by your Representatives

Let True North Reports know your favorite bills, or the ones that concern you most. We’d love to hear and share!