by Andrew Walden March 27, 2011 (Updated April 7, 2011)
After two years of marketing the alleged horrors of the non-existent “Pacific Garbage Patch”, environmentalists, big business, and big government are ready to cash in.
Senate Bill 1363 “requires businesses in the State to collect a 5-cent fee for each (paper or plastic) single-use checkout bag provided to a customer.” And after all that work using the equivalent of a mass-marketing campaign to con-vince the public to hate and fear plastic, the State General Fund, supermarkets, and environmentalists have hit on a way to divide up the loot.
UPDATE: In the early hours of Thursday April 7, the House Finance Committee passed SB1363 with a 10 cent per bag fee.
As is often the case, a scheme launched in Hawaii is envisioned as a model for the shake down of consumers all over the United States—and it this case, business is already on board. Bob Gutierrez of Times Supermarket writes in support of SB1363:
There are various models throughout the United States that address the use of single use bags, and while some are similar throughout states such as California, they lack a uniform approach. Hawaii would be the first state in the union to implement a statewide policy that holds all jurisdictions to the same standard.
Participation in SB1363 will reinforce belief in the environmental religion, as one testifier writes: “With the proper outreach, this bill could educate the public against a disposable lifestyle….”
Written testimony from Hawaii Department of Health Director Loretta Fuddy underlines some of the points which remain to be settled in secret by the House-Senate Conference Committee or the Democratic Caucus determining how the co-conspirators will divvy up their loot:
The added cost to the department is estimated to be $1,000,000. This bill allows businesses to retain an unspecified percentage of offset fees collected as revenue subject to income tax but exempt from excise tax…. Also unspecified is the portion the department is to be deposit into the general fund, and how much the department may retain to implement the program. Penalty amounts are also unspecified. Community outreach, education, litter cleanups = $350,000….
“Community outreach” is code for “jobs for enviro-activists.”
There is a dispute over whether the General Fund will get all of the State’s loot. Abercrombie’s budget director Kalbert Young testified March 22:
A portion of the fees are to be deposited into a special account in the State general fund for expenditure by the Department of Health for expenses related to the administration and enforcement of this bill. As a matter of general policy, this department does not support the creation of any special account within the general fund of the State for specific purposes.
Big business is also getting a cut of the action. Retailers have sharply opposed plastic bag bans on Maui and Kauai, but they are salivating over the bag tax. Lauren Zirbel of the Hawaii Food Industry Association testifies in support of SB1363:
We are … pleased that this bill recognizes that it will cost retailers money in increased checkout time due to hassles associated with counting each bag at the point of sale. Without a fee on paper, our current plastic bag ban bills will result in a shift to paper bags. Paper bags can cost as much as 10 times more than plastic bags.
Unelected progressives and environmental activists serve as an outlier which elected progressives can point to and then paint themselves as reasonable. For instance, Josh Frost of the Progressive Democrats of Hawaii writes: “I would ask that the bill be amended to reinsert the fee amount at 25 cents.” Several UH Richardson Law school students wrote testimony begging Legislators not to override the plastic bag bans in Kauai and Maui Counties. Those bag bans were the cudgel with which progressives brought big business to the bargaining table to divvy up the takings. As Bob Gutierrez of Times Supermarket explains in written testimony March 21:
Currently two island counties have implemented bag policy where we operate stores, and while we support the attempt to change consumer behavior, we believe that that best method for doing so is by implementing a fee.
Susan Houghton, representing Safeway, seconded Gutierrez’ point:
We are aware that Maui and Kauai have both already adopted strict plastic bag bans, however, we believe a fee-based system on both plastic and paper is the preferred route. The city of San Francisco completely banned plastic bags several years ago — but did not address the issue of paper bag use. As a retailer with 15 stores in that city, we saw our costs for paper bags increase substantially — by more than $1 million a year.
Unlike the old boys who ruled through pay for play capital improvement projects and control of labor unions, the progressives claim to power rests on their ability to “manufacture consent” via mass marketing campaigns such as “Global Warming” or the “Pacific Garbage Patch” and then transform those illusions into real laws and real changes in consumer behavior.
Progressives’ ability to raise taxes and direct taxpayer, ratepayer and consumer money from the pockets of thousands of individuals into the coffers of special interests stems from their control over the application of guilt and redemption in the environmental religion.
The bag tax is the latest test of their power.
Oregon State Univ: Oceanic “garbage patch” not nearly as big as portrayed in media
SB1363_HD1_HSCR1119: Status, Text, Testimony
Testimony cited in article: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2011/Testimony/SB1363_SD2_TESTIMONY_EEP-ERB_03-22-11_.PDF
RELATED: Legislators, Big Business push Bag Tax on Hawaii shoppers, Enviro scammers: Bag taxes are Fun! (SB1363)
SaveThePlasticBag.com: Reality vs Image from the Enviros own photos