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Citizens propose Islandwide ban on plastic bags

Sat, May 20th 2017 07:00 am
By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
The Grand Island Town Council referred to its advisory boards a proposal for an Islandwide ban on plastic bags.
Two residents, Sheila Kelly and Anam Hussain, seniors at Grand Island High School, spoke to the board at its work session Monday with a proposal to eliminate the use of plastic bags on the Island. They first approached Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray on their idea.
"You pushed me hard on this," McMurray told the students.
During discussion of their presentation to the full board at its meeting in the Town Hall conference room, the board learned how the students talked over the proposal with GIHS science teacher Jeff Green, did their own research, and came up with an idea for a law that includes a 10-cent tax on plastic bags.
Plastic bags are the "No. 1 thing that pollutes the Island," Kelly said, and she pointed to similar laws in other places.
Hussain said the U.S. uses 100 billion plastic bags a year. "I definitely think we should start small and look at our own community to see what we can do," she told the Town Board.
Town Attorney Peter Godfrey said those taxes were challenged in other places. He called a law he drafted, that businesses shall provide only reusable bags, a "black and white tool ... No plastic."
McMurray said he wants to consider the law after receiving public opinion.
McMurray said he plastic bags are "in every field, in every cupboard of my house, by the way," but are enduring pollutant.
Godfrey said the draft law would include a six-month time frame before it would take effect, so businesses would have an opportunity to use up current inventory of bags.
The board referred the matter to the town's Economic Development Advisory Board and Conservation Advisory Board for consideration.
Civic Meeting Calendar
•Tuesday, May 23 - The Town Board will hold a workshop meeting at 5 p.m. to discuss a proposed Grand Island Community Center and the retirement of a code enforcement officer.

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