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Proposed bill could give local government power to regulate plastic bags


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BOISE — A Democratic representative wants to give local government the power to regulate plastic bags.

Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, presented a bill to the House Ways and Means Committee that would repeal an Idaho Law preventing local governments from placing regulations on plastic bags and other “auxiliary containers.”

“A couple of years ago, at the request of the plastic bag manufacturing lobby, the legislature banned local government from regulating plastic bags or containers,” Rubel told

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Idaho is one of 10 states with laws preempting local governments from regulating plastic bags.

The bill would repeal Idaho Code 67-2340. The law says only the state legislature can impose restrictions, fees or taxes on containers, like plastic and paper bags or other containers “designed for one-time use or for transporting merchandise or food from food and retail facilities.”

“Less than one percent of plastic bags are returned for recycling, they take up to 1,000 years to decompose, and they can create a serious environmental menace,” Rubel explained.

Repealing the law would allow counties and cities to impose regulations, fees or taxes on plastic bags.

“If a local community wants to address the (plastic bag) issue, I think it should be able to. (The bill) is an effort to restore local control that I feel was inappropriately taken away by the legislature,” Rubel said.

Imposing local restrictions on plastic bags has been done around the country. In Hawaii, several large counties have imposed restrictions on plastic bags. In California, there are statewide restrictions on single-use plastic bags.