Thursday, March 19, 2015

Local control is good .... except when it isn't

Here is the Star's other report on a bill preempting local control, in this case the ability of municipalities to charge fees or deposits for grocery bags.

State lawmakers are moving to kill efforts by cities and counties to regulate grocery bags before the idea spreads.

On a 5-3 vote, the House Commerce Committee approved legislation to make it illegal for any community to impose any sort of fee or deposit on the use of "auxiliary containers." That includes everything from soda bottles and cups to disposable bags "used for transporting merchandise or food."

The provision in SB 1241 is being moved in tandem with a prohibition against cities and counties from requiring businesses and building owners from having to report their energy consumption.

That part of the legislation is in reaction to a proposal by the city of Phoenix to monitor energy use.

Tim Lawless, lobbyist for the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, said that will lead to building owners having to make their energy use public, perhaps for the purpose of embarrassing them into becoming more efficient. And the next step, he said, would be mandates to cut energy use.

OMG - how awful would that be.

So far only Bisbee has enacted such a law, imposing a nickel-a-bag tax on disposable bags. The retailers get to keep 2 cents for the cost of bags and administering the fee, with the balance going to a fund that can be used to provide reusable carryout bags and promoting conservation and recycling programs.

But Flagstaff, Tucson and Tempe have been looking at their own ordinances, which would be pre-empted if SB 1241, which now goes to the full House, becomes law.

See? The GOPlins really like local control ... except when the hayseed locals try to control anything.

But there is more.

Among those voting for the bill was Rep. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, whose family has been in the grocery business for more than 60 years. But Shope, in explaining his position, did not mention the question of bags, instead focusing on the energy-reporting provision in SB 1241.

"Frankly, I don’t think it’s the government’s business to know what my energy use is," he said.

The obvious next step is to make it illegal for a government regulated utility like TEP or APS to know your energy use. Think about it. Perhaps Shope and his GOPlin shoppers will tell us how that would work.

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