Litter is once again the excuse for an effort to control what Oregonians can do in their open spaces.

House Bill 3441 would ban alcohol possession and consumption on the state’s beaches. Even possession of unopened or empty alcohol containers would violate the proposed law, as would possession of a glass bottle designed for any beverage.

In 2014, litter was blamed in a failed effort to prohibit smoking on the state’s beaches as well as a successful move to do the same in many areas of state parks.

Rep. Janeen Sollman, D-Hillsboro, is the chief sponsor of HB 3441. She told The Register-Guard it’s in response to a constituent who has been tracking discarded alcoholic beverage bottles and cans on the beaches for years. She said the bill focuses on alcohol because those containers are the biggest litter problem.

Violations would be Class C misdemeanors punishable by a maximum of 30 days in jail, a $1,250 fine, or both.

The bill has gathered nine additional sponsors, including one Republican, but not one of them represents a coastal community.

Oregon has a proud history of making its beaches available to all. In fact, another legislative bill (HCR8) seeks to celebrate the 50 years since Gov. Tom McCall convinced the Legislature to protect public access when it was challenged by a motel owner in Cannon Beach. Earlier efforts at protecting public beach access date back to 1913, according to Rep. David Brock Smith, sponsor of HCR8.

If litter is the problem, efforts should focus on the culprits by enforcing anti-litter laws already in place. Don’t make the rest of us pay the price by losing the option to enjoy a drink on our public beaches.

As of Wednesday morning, HB 3441 was on the speaker’s desk awaiting referral to a committee. Let’s save everybody time and trouble by letting it stay where it is.

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