April 2, 2018-
The forces working for and against a statewide ban on plastic retail bags and polystyrene containers clashed during a recent House committee hearing. Like past efforts, elected officials expressed their interest in a ban but lacked a consensus for passing a bill. Rep. Robert Lancia, R-Cranston, got into a testy exchange with Rep. Katherine Kazarian, D-East Providence, about a provision of the bill (H7851) that allows municipalities to opt out of the dual bans.
Kazarian said a uniform statewide ban helps businesses by creating a singe rule that applies to all communities. Lancia argued that not having a ban makes a community more enticing to businesses. Cranston, which has a large retail sector and no bag ban, is thriving, Lancia noted. Kazarian responded that the hearing was not a forum for arguing which communities are better than others. Lancia left the hearing room moments later. Barry Schiller of the North Providence Environmental Commission gave a compelling argument for the ban. He noted that low-income groups benefit from a fee on bags because it lowers the cost of goods.