Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Why is the AZ Legislature intent on imposing urban BLIGHT throughout our state? UPDATED 5:50pm 4-1-15

Nothing in contemporary society (Arizona, the United States and really, the entire world) is as UBIQUITOUS as the single use plastic bag and single use plastic product packaging. It's been about 48 years since Dustin Hoffman's character in The Graduate was encouraged to pursue a career in plastics.

Even if "Ben" didn't pursue that career, plenty of others did. Now these items are literally EVERYWHERE, having proliferated throughout the entire civilized world. Probably even to many areas that are not highly populated.

Don't Trash Arizona, a joint effort between the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and ADOT (AZ Dept. of Transportation), says,

  • It costs taxpayers more than $3 million every year to clean up litter along Valley roadways. There is an additional cost to the economy when businesses and tourists fail to return to our state due to a poor impression. (and that's not counting what gets cleaned up by volunteers)

  • ADOT crews remove 500 bags of trash every weekday just from Maricopa County freeways alone. This equals about 1.6 MILLION pounds of trash every year.

  • Litter is not only ugly, it is unsanitary and can cause environmental and health problems. Cigarette butts, for example, along with plastics and other types of litter, contain toxic chemicals that can end up in storm drains and contaminate our water systems. (emphasis mine)

  • Of course, Arizonans have been recycling plastics, paper, glass and aluminum cans for years. So much so that municipal governments contract with private (small business) companies to process the items in the BLUE trash bins.

    United Fibers, a recycling facility in Chandler, separates the loads brought to it by recycling trucks into paper, plastics, aluminum cans, etc. After the sorting process, one of the main products United Fibers produces is cellulose insulation used in homebuilding.

    But before it gets to that stage,

    ... it has to be sorted. The reason the items on the conveyor belt are blurry is because they move fast.

    Yet, the workers aren't able to catch every plastic bag (or other item composed of plastic film). Here's what happens next,

    This machine has to be stopped several times each day to cut and pull the plastic film (mostly single use plastic bags) out of the rollers.


    SB1241, a bill changed in the Arizona House of Representatives to prohibit political subdivisions from banning single use plastic bags, was a response to news that municipalities now want to actually take action that will reduce the cost of government, reduce the cost of trash collection and processing, and protect the beauty of our great state. How in the world can these boneheads get away with claiming to be for reducing the cost of government while doing stupid stuff like this?

    Yesterday, the Arizona House passed SB1241 on a close to party line vote with only one two Democrats voting with ALL [but one, Noel Campbell, LD1] of the Republicans to TRASH ARIZONA. The bill is scheduled for a final vote in the Senate today.


    It's time for Arizona citizens to get real about our state legislature. A number of bills this year, including this one that may go to Gov. Scrooge McDucey as early as today, have as a shamelessly obvious end result -- intentional or not -- that they will impose BLIGHT on our cities and towns by making it more difficult to reduce sources of trash problems.

    In this case, SB1241 preempts municipal regulation of (prohibits bans on) single use plastic bags by retail establishments. The irrational justification for this draconian piece of legislation is found in explicit language in the bill.

    C.  The legislature finds that small businesses are particularly sensitive to costs and expenses incurred in complying with regulatory actions of a city or town. The legislature further finds that inconsistent regulation by cities and towns hinders a small business from benefiting from free and open competition. 
    Except that no testimony before any committee in the House (the subject of the bill was entirely different when it was passed by the senate on February 23) demonstrated that ANY regulation by cities, towns or counties of any environmental problem, issue or concern, would or even could prevent small businesses in any Arizona jurisdiction from competing for customers.

    If the Arizona Legislature were anything other than the sick and pathetic body of plutocratic policymaking that it is, legislative testimony in committees would require thoughtful consideration of all sides of issues BEFORE any legislation is approved. But we know that just is not how it works at 1700 W. Washington in Phoenix.

    Once upon a time, Democrats and Republicans in the legislature worked together. Not so much anymore. Because the Republicans own the lawmaking power in our state, the ramifications go well beyond the fact that the interests of Main Street Arizonans are completely disregarded.

    In practice, we NOW see how even when the GOP wants to represent the interests of small businesses (well, that's what the bill says anyway), they really don't.

    The cost to big grocery and convenience store chains for implementing proposals like those being considered by the Flagstaff and Tempe City Councils, would be minimal. Especially given that stores like Fry's and Sprouts have already acclimated customers to bringing their own bags with an incentive (Sprouts still offers a nickel discount for each reusable bag a customer brings with them), or Trader Joe's with a contest giveaway drawing for those who do likewise.

    In 2014, California became the first state to institute a statewide ban on plastic bags. It goes into effect in July this year.
    SACRAMENTO, CA - Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed legislation imposing the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at grocery and convenience stores, driven to action by a buildup of litter and damage to aquatic ecosystems.
    Tell me, can you honestly believe chamber of commerce claims that a statewide ban (in California) is going to cause that state's residents to move out of state or even those in towns that border other states to go to those other states to buy groceries and other consumer goods?

    How, therefore, could it be rational for Arizona lawmakers to forbid cities to institute bans? Just because California did it and we're impetuous teenagers who refuse to do it just because our "socialist" neighbor to the west did it?

    Is it rational for Arizona to consider the preemption based on advocacy from chambers of commerce representing BIG grocery chains (even though they deceptively invoke the term "small business?") without testimony from actual small businesses needlessly harmed by the proliferation of single use retail plastic bags?

    Is it rational for Arizona lawmakers to narcissistically throw tantrums when the federal government does something they don't appreciate (or understand) and then turn around and without fully vetting a proposal impose their short-sighted will on the jurisdictions that actually have to cope with the problem?


    SB1241 will likely end up on Scrooge McDucey's desk today or tomorrow. It's time to call his office and tell him it's time to stop the spread of this insidious BLIGHT. Tell him to VETO SB1241 so that local jurisdictions will have the opportunity to find ways to address this ugly problem.

    The plastic bag problem, that is. It will take much more to fix the corruption and dysfunction that is the Arizona Legislature itself.

    The Arizona governor's Office of Constituent Services can be reached at 602-542-4331 or by email contact form.


    UPDATE               UPDATE               UPDATE

    A source at the Arizona Senate just advised me that the final vote on SB1241 will likely take place tomorrow.

    Therefore, please contact key potential swing votes in the senate TONIGHT and ask them to vote NO, including:

    Carlyle Begay 602-926-5862  or (and) email

    Jeff Dial 602-926-5550 or (and) email

    Steve Pierce 602-926-5584 or (and) email

    Adam Driggs 602-926-3016 or (and) email

    Catherine Miranda 602-926-4893 or (and) email

    Bob Worsley 602-926-5760 or (and) email


    1. A small business owner in Flagstaff told me his cost for providing plastic bags annually was approximately $15,000. I don't know the cost to a large grocery store. I suspect most small business owners would gladly increase revenues but our legislature knows best ......

    2. Arizona EagletarianApril 2, 2015 at 10:43 AM

      LOL... good joke. "but our legislature knows best." If only that were true.