Utah legislator pledges not to oppose Park City’s plastic-bag ban | ParkRecord.com

Utah legislator pledges not to oppose Park City’s plastic-bag ban

Republican Tim Quinn says the prohibition should remain a local decision

by Jay Hamburger
THE PARK RECORD

The state legislator whose district includes Park City does not back City Hall's recent enactment of a prohibition of plastic bags designed to be used just once.

But any Statehouse effort to overturn the Park City rule should not consider Rep. Tim Quinn's vote as already being in the bag.

Quinn, a Republican from the Heber City area whose District 54 stretches into Park City, said in an interview he would oppose legislation that targets Park City's ability to enact the ban.

Although Park City leaders approved the prohibition, there is concern at City Hall that the Legislature will move against the ban. It is the first such prohibition on plastic bags in the state, and it is not known whether Legislature will mount a challenge to Park City's ban.

The prospects of the Legislature taking action during the next session, slated for early 2018, were briefly addressed as Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council debated the ban. That part of the discussion was peripheral, but it was an acknowledgement of concern within the municipal ranks that the Legislature could take action.

Quinn, a first-term legislator who is more popular in the Heber City side of the district than he is in Park City, is a staunch conservative and typically opposes what he sees as government overreach. In an interview, though, Quinn described that he would not want the Legislature meddling in Park City's affairs in the case of the plastic-bag prohibition. Although he opposes the Park City ban, he would not support a state override based on his concerns about the overreach of government. Quinn said he "absolutely" supports Park City's right to enact a ban.

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"Not only would I vote against it, I would lobby against it," he said about any legislative challenge.

Quinn said nobody has approached him about sponsoring a bill that could override the Park City ban. He also said he has not heard of such an effort involving other legislators.

The possibility of the Legislature taking action as a result of Park City's enactment of the ban was mentioned during the meeting when it was approved on a unanimous vote by the Park City Council. A representative of the Utah Food Industry Association and the Utah Retail Merchants Association told the elected officials it is likely the Legislature will become involved if Park City enacted the ban. Dave Davis, though, did not provide details about the potential of Statehouse action.

The heavily Republican Legislature has long been seen as supporting policies and bills in support of business. Industry associations could likely successfully lobby another legislator besides Quinn to sponsor a bill against the Park City ban, but it is difficult to forecast the response by the full Legislature before the bill's text is drafted.

The City Council action banned large stores from distributing to customers razor-thin plastic bags that are designed to be used just once. The ban is limited to stores that sell groceries and have at least 12,000 square feet. There are three stores that fall under the ban – Fresh Market, The Market at Park City and Rite Aid. The ban goes into effect in late June.

Park City enacted the ban as part of City Hall's broad environmental efforts and in an effort to reduce the number of plastic bags littering the community. The ban does not involve reusable bags, bags designed for foodstuffs bought in bulk and several other categories of bags.

A first offense would result in a warning followed by fines of up to $250 for the first violation and fines of up to $500 for subsequent offenses over the course of a year.

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