Paper and plastic

January 26th, 2012

Jon Kaneshiro, a senior at Iolani School, had an experience Thursday that most high school students wouldn’t even dream of: a bill he drafted received a hearing before the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee.

As an intern in state House Speaker Calvin Say’s office, Kaneshiro said he was originally supposed to be a legislative aide, but his interests prompted him to draft HB 1828 —which proposes charging a fee for one-time use plastic bags at grocery stores and retail outlets — and Say submitted it.

“It’s kind of like American Idol, you never expect yourself doing this,” Kaneshiro said following the hearing. “It was a great experience overall and I learned a lot.”

The committee deferred the bill indefinitely because HB 2260, a similar bill that extends the fee to one-time use paper bags and is much more comprehensive in scope, was preferred by those who testified.

Kaneshiro said he wasn’t disappointed by the outcome of his bill, and he even testified in support of HB 2260.

“I didn’t hear about this bill until maybe like a week before, so, once I read it, I liked it a lot,” the law-school hopeful said. “I can see the subtle changes in the way it was written … and it’s not heartbreaking at all. It was a good opportunity to see what people want and see how these kinds of people think.”

Despite overwhelming testimony in favor of HB 2260, Kaneshiro’s bill still made an impression.

Mark Fox, the director of external affairs at the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii of The Nature Conservancy, suggested to the committee that a recycling provision outlined in HB 1828 be rolled into HB 2260. That provision states that if a business operates a plastic bag recycling bin during all business hours, the business can keep 25 percent of the fee charged to cover any costs related to managing the bin.

HB 2260 was also deferred, but not indefinitely. Rep. Denny Coffman, chairman of the committee, said he believes a bill of similar subject matter that will possibly be heard next week will clear up many testifiers’ concerns, and he wants to hear that one first.

– Sarah Zoellick

5 Responses to “Paper and plastic”

  1. Chicken Grease:

    More waste of taxpayers’ time as the Legislature starts. Yawn.

    How ’bout a bill to allow each legislator in the State Capitol unlimited plastic bags in which to put in all their bull and send it off to trash. Oh, waitaminute. That WOULD end up as an unlimited amount of plastic bags, so, never mind.

    Enough of this “goes-nowhere-unrealistic-whattaya-talkin’-’bout-electric company-executive-because-we-are-ligh-years-away-from-any-kind-of-biomass-source-of-energy-even-if-we-sat-in the dark-every-evening-with-no-electriciy-on-you-would-STILL-insist-rates-need-to-go-up” billage. Besides, most of the population end up re-using those bags (i.e., for home lunch, use to put toiletries in when packing your bag for airplane trip, etc.) and are decimated after various uses. You watch — those hooraying such legislation are going to be the premier of those lamenting strict plastic bag use.

    Besides, I ask the average Democrat in this state who thinks a lot of the homeless on this island can be convinced to get help at shelters, what WOULD the homeless use to carry their stuff around in when plastic bags suddenly become limited? Oh, wait, I forgot the seeming rule — those who the Left wants to save gets a pass from what the rest of us are required to do. Stupid Grease!

  2. innocent observer:

    the proposed law is basically a tax to raise more revenue, if they want to ban plastic bags because of its adverse impact on the environment, then just ban its use completely. Legislators, be honest, do not use deception to raise taxes.

  3. Follow the $:

    Oh Great, Now we have kids writing bills, Why need legislators.
    Too bad this bill would not only hurt businesses but the well.
    Plastic bags bills have been proven to hurt the environment as paper bills kill trees.
    Reusuable bags are unsantiary.
    Plus it is a money grab for more tax money.

  4. Kolea:

    I think mandating a charge for a plastic bag is much smarter than the outright bans passed by Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. Think of your own shopping habits. Sometimes you need a bag, other times not so much. If you are given a choice, pay for a bag or save some money, it is left up to the consumer to make the decision. Frankly, we all use too many plastic bags.

    I have no doubt charging for the bags will reduce their consumption without putting hardship on the consumer or the store. In turn, this will reduce waste and litter. Sounds like a pretty good idea. Not earth-shaking, given the actual scale of the environmental challenges we face. In fact, in some ways, it is a distraction from what really needs to be done, allowing environmental activists to score a small “win” and feel good they have done SOMETHING to protect the environment. And allowing cranky Fox News watchers to rail against encroachments of the “nanny state” and our erosion of the essential liberty to get free plastic bags.

    Meanwhile, seal levels rise, storms increase in intensity, the ocean becomes acidified, the glaciers melt and the deserts advance. And all we manage to accomplish is to cut down on plastic bags.

  5. Goober:

    Garbage bags? Blame those who toss plastic bags in the wind without tying them in knots. Don’t forget to double my paper bag.

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