Ericksen asks Inslee to veto bill banning single-use plastic bags in Washington

OLYMPIA – State Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, is asking Gov. Jay Inslee to veto Senate Bill 5323, the bill that would ban single-use plastic bags in Washington.

The 42nd District senator argues that the bags can help reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 in grocery stores and other retail shops that have used the bags for years.

In a letter sent to Inslee Tuesday, Ericksen wrote:

“Many governments in Washington and throughout the United States have recently changed their policies on an emergency basis to discourage customers from bringing reusable bags into stores during the COVID-19 pandemic because viruses can be carried on dirty bags. Indeed, as we all try to find better ways to prevent spreading diseases to our neighbors, the case against banning single-use plastic bags is only growing stronger. The grocery store workers who handle people’s groceries – workers who are essential under your recent proclamation – are especially vulnerable when people reuse unwashed bags.

“I strongly believe that the legislature would not have passed ESSB 5323 if it had fully considered the effects of banning plastic bags during this challenging time of emergency restrictions and social distancing. To be sure, Washingtonians should be free to use the shopping bags they prefer, but this should include the option of single-use plastic bags for those who believe they are the safer choice during the COVID-19 outbreak. I think we are learning that single-use plastic bags can be a critical tool in our fight to strengthen public health.”

Inslee is scheduled to sign Senate Bill 5323 into law Wednesday.

Ericksen’s letter to Inslee can be found here.

Ericksen is lead Republican on the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee.