A Colorado House committee killed a bill that would have prohibited restaurants from giving customers plastic straws unless requested.
House Bill 19-1143 was postponed indefinitely by the House Energy and Environment committee in a 10 to 1 vote Monday after the sponsoring legislator, Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver, asked the committee to do so following amendments to the bill.
The bill would have allowed food businesses to offer plastic straws to customers only when they asked for them, but allowed straw dispensers and excluded drive-through restaurants and hospitals. The bill did not include an enforcement mechanism, which some said could have been problematic.
“Asking our restaurants to not automatically assume a straw is needed when serving drinks and ask patrons or the server to simply ask for one will reduce waste generated by plastic straws,” Lontine said.
The bill also bars local governments from regulating single-use plastic straws, something several committee members questioned.
Nick Hoover, government affairs manager for the Colorado Restaurant Association, testified in favor of the bill and said if localities were to choose their own regulations, it would create a “compliance nightmare” for restaurants.
Randy Moorman of Eco-Cycle, a Boulder-based non-profit recycler, said the bill “doesn’t go far enough,” adding the group would like a strong enforcement mechanism and no pre-emption language.
“At a minimum as a society, we must stop using single-use disposable plastics we only use once then throw away,” he said. “House Bill 19-1143 is a useful first step in recognizing that we need to change our approach to plastics, but it doesn’t go far enough.”
Rep. Lori Saine, R-Firestone, offered an amendment to the bill allowing local governments to set their own standards, which was approved.
Lontine then requested a motion to postpone the bill because of the amendment, which was passed, effectively killing the bill.
Seattle and Washington, D.C. are the largest U.S. cities to ban plastic straws. California was the first state to require restaurants to stop providing plastic straws unless customers ask for them, and similar legislation is pending in other states, including Hawaii.