The Bend City Council may repeal a local plastic bag ban in light of the state Senate passing a similar law earlier this month.
The goal is to eliminate confusion between the local law — which is set to start July 1 — and the anticipated state law slated to begin in January.
After months of lobbying from a community group and middle school students, the City Council in a 4-2 vote established an ordinance in December that would ban plastic grocery bags in Bend.
The ban, which is scheduled to take effect next month, does not include bags for bulk items, produce or meat, pharmacy prescriptions, prepared takeout food or bags provided by vendors at temporary events such as farmers markets.
But with another plastic bag ban on its way to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk, the city is considering taking its own ordinance off the books.
“For me, it’s just a clean- up,” said Mayor Sally Russell on Thursday. “It’s not taking away from anything that the community brought forward.”
Eliminating the ban in Bend was mentioned by City Manager Eric King during a council meeting Wednesday. The council agreed to discuss the repeal at its July 23 meeting.
“Sometimes, this happens with local government,” King said Thursday.
“We’re always monitoring regulatory context: Does this make sense? Some things evolve to where it makes sense for the state or federal government to take on that role.”
While the two bans have much in common, the state version is broader.
The state dictates that all retail establishments will not be allowed to provide single-use plastic bags, although it does allow retailers to provide recycled paper bags, reusable heavy plastic bags, or reusable fabric bags for a charge of at least 5 cents per bag.
Restaurants that use single-use bags for take-out orders would be impacted. Restaurants could provide recycled paper bags at no cost, or reusable plastic bags for a charge of at least 5 cents per bag.
Bend’s ordinance focused mostly on grocery stores and set the minimum price for alternative bags at 10 cents.
And although Bend’s ordinance is set to start July 1, enforcement wasn’t scheduled to begin until Jan. 1 — the same day the state law takes effect, King said.
King said the repeal shouldn’t be interpreted as a “wasted effort,” but rather as an example of how average people can get involved in local government and affect change.
“This is what democracy is all about. The local level is the entry point to affect change,” King said Thursday. “Sometimes, it’s not just about the outcome.”
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