Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Investigating earthquakes in Alabama ... A fight about Chik-Fil-A in San Antonio ... Considering a seasonal gas tax hike.
Attempting to cut back on a key source of litter, New York is moving to become the second state to ban most plastic bags from retail stores. “I think that’s going to make a significant difference,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday. The Legislature on Sunday approved the measure as part of the state’s $175.5 billion proposed budget. California is the only other state to impose a statewide ban, although Hawaii effectively has one as all counties have outlawed single-use plastic bags. Not every plastic bag will be outlawed under the law set to go into effect next March, as bags for produce and other items inside a grocery store will still be allowed, as will newspaper bags and ones at take-out at restaurants. But at retail checkout, stores will need to offer paper bags or encourage customers to bring totes. Local governments will be given the option to require stores to charge 5 cents for every paper bag, which in Suffolk County led to a steep drop in bag use, Syracuse.com reported. Some advocates were disappointed in the final state proposal, saying they wanted a mandatory fee across the state to cut down on all disposable bag use. “New York had a chance to show real leadership and came up short,” Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York, told the New York Times. Business organizations, however, countered that part of the bag fee revenue should have been sent back to stores instead of being earmarked for environmental programs and local governments. [Associated Press; Syracuse.com; New York Times]
SOUTHERN EARTHQUAKES | Federal investigators are trying to root out the cause of five earthquakes in Alabama and the nearby Florida panhandle in recent weeks. [AL.com]
GAS TAX HIKE, JUST SOMETIMES | Some Maine lawmakers are floating an idea to raise the gas tax, but only during the tourist season. “Why not export some of the costs to out-of-staters?” a key proponent said. Tourism advocates, though, oppose the idea, saying they are concerned about visitors instead heading to other New England destinations. [Sun Journal]
GUN AMMO | A judge has temporarily blocked a California law that banned the possession of high-capacity gun magazines. Those magazines have been prohibited from being sold in the state for almost two decades, but people who owned them before were allowed to keep them. An attorney for the National Rifle Association said he believes the decision means people can now buy the magazines. [Associated Press]
CHICKEN WARS | Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says he is investigating the city of San Antonio’s vote to prohibit a Chick-Fil-A restaurant from opening at the local airport. The councilman who spearheaded the move to keep Chick-Fil-A from the airport said he objected to the company’s contributions to anti-LGBTQ groups. Paxton in a letter said he thinks there could be a First Amendment violation in the council’s action. [Texas Tribune]
Laura Maggi is Managing Editor of Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.
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