Seattle residents will have an opportunity to reverse a 20 cent tax on disposable, single-use plastic and paper carryout bags enacted a month ago.
The Coalition to Stop the Seattle Bag Tax submitted a petition Aug. 28 with 50 percent more signatures than were needed to place the issue on the ballot. Unless the Seattle City Council, which passed the tax, opts for a special election, residents will vote to approve or reject the nation's first tax on carryout bags at the city's next election in August 2009. The referendum is likely to delay the tax from going into effect as planned Jan. 1.
The coalition includes the Progressive Bag Affiliates of the Arlington, Va.-based American Chemistry Council, 7-Eleven Inc. and the Olympia-based Washington Food Industry, which represents independent grocers in the state.
An unrelated group, Save the Bag Coalition, filed a lawsuit Aug. 18 in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County to overturn a recently passed plastic bag ban in Manhattan Beach, Calif. That ban is set to take effect Feb. 14.
Several other bans also are pending, along with a proposal for fees on paper and plastic bags in California.
Hawaii County Council voted Aug. 27 to ban plastic bags on the Big Island, but Mayor Harry Kim has not indicated whether he will sign the measure. Just five days earlier, Maui County in Hawaii which includes Maui, Molokai and Lanai islands passed a plastic bag ban that is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2011.
Still pending on Aug. 29 was the California Legislature's final decision on a new bag proposal that emerged on Aug. 22. That bill would require supermarkets with more than 10,000 square feet of retail space to charge a fee of at least 25 cents, beginning Jan. 1, 2010, on all single-use carryout bags paper and plastic. There would be a $2 cap on the fee for a single transaction until Jan. 1, 2014. The Legislature plans to make a decision on that bill before its session ends Sept. 1.
San Francisco is the only U.S. city with a plastic bag ban currently in effect. Malibu, Calif., has enacted a ban, effective Dec. 26.