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Plastic bags banned in Issaquah

The days of plastic bags are numbered in Issaquah.

In a 5-2 vote Monday, City Council decided to ban plastic shopping bags and impose a 5 cent fee on paper, beginning March 2013.

The law is similar to Seattle's with a few exceptions, primarily it allows organizations, such as Salmon Days, to apply for exemptions.

"This is not Seattle's bill. This is not anyone else's bill. This is Issaquah's bill," said Issaquah Council President Tola Marts.

Championed by Councilmember Mark Mullet, the bill was first introduced in January. He believed similar bans proved this one would work.

Future generations will have to deal with the plastic bag waste we create today, he said, politicians need to speak for them. The same goes for marine wildlife, because they can't speak for themselves.

Dissenters to the bill weren't convinced that it was the best way to approach the plastic bag problem. Councilmember Joshua Schaer hoped to impose a fee on the bags instead, and counterpart Eileen Barber preferred that the city continue to work on education, which would be less hurtful to small businesses.

Her influence did help give small businesses, those under 7,500 square ft., an additional year to implement the change.

The council debated the bill for a couple months, before taking the final vote. The hope was to get more local input.

Counting comments from residents, Stacy Goodman said about 60 percent of the locals that contacted her approved the ban, which she called strong local support compared to city outsiders that mostly opposed the ban.

Most of the council members agreed with the Issaquah Environmental Council, which said the law doesn't go far enough in banning plastics.

However, most agreed with Goodman, who said "it's a good place to start."

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