Homer Alaska - News

Mayor vetoes Homer plastic bag ordinance

By Michael Armstrong

Homer News Staff Writer

Homer Mayor James Hornaday on Friday vetoed a city of Homer ordinance that banned thin, disposable plastic shopping bags. In a note with his veto, Hornaday said, "I believe this issue needs to come back to the council for more work."

In a 4-2 vote, the Homer City Council at its Aug. 27 regular meeting passed Ordinance 12-36(a). Introduced by council members Beau Burgess and David Lewis, the ordinance's intent is to reduce litter and harm to the environment by decreasing the use of disposable shopping bags. It would have banned sellers from providing customers with very-thin bags less than 2.25 mils thick — about one-third the thickness of a sheet of 20-pound weight copy paper.

The ordinance would not ban thicker plastic shopping bags, plastic bags sold for trash disposal, bags used for produce and bulk items, bags for frozen foods, bags for prescription drugs, newspaper bags, and bags for prepared foods and bakery goods.

Hornaday's veto is only his second in his eight years as Homer mayor. In May 2009, Hornaday vetoed a change in water and sewer rates. The council overrode that veto. An election for mayor and two council seats is Oct. 2, but Hornaday is not running for re-election.

Two current council members, Beth Wythe and Bryan Zak, are running for Homer mayor. Wythe voted against the plastic bag ordinance and Zak voted for it.

The council has until Sept. 28 to consider and vote on overriding Hornaday's veto of the plastic bag ordinance. Two-thirds of the six council members, or four votes, are required to override a veto. The council meets on Monday, and the veto is on the agenda for discussion. A simple motion and a second is all that's needed to consider an override. Council member Lewis will be absent from Monday's meeting.

If the council takes no action by Sept. 28, the veto stands and the ordinance is off the books. The council cannot amend or change the plastic bag ordinance as passed. Any changes would require introduction of a new ordinance.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.