Washington State is one of three major hotbeds for the Wuhan coronavirus, along with New York and California. Despite that, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) on Wednesday signed a bill banning retailers from providing plastic bags with purchases.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, residents will have to supply reusable tote bags or pay eight cents for each plastic bag they receive.
According to KREM-TV, the eight-cent charge would go to cover the cost of reusable tote bags and create incentives for customers to bring in their own bags.
The bag fee will increase over time. By 2026, retailers will have to charge 12 cents per plastic bag, KERP-TV reported.
Washington State Senator Doug Erickson (R) asked Inslee to veto the bill, citing the potential spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.
"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," Erickson wrote in his letter. "Indeed, as we all try to find better ways to prevent spreading disease to our neighbors, the case against banning single-use plastic bags is only a 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."
If Democrats want to save the earth and the environment, fine. So be it. If they want to encourage people to purchase reusable tote bags to cut down on plastic bags, fine. So be it. But seriously? They're going to sign this kind of legislation into law in the middle of a pandemic?
Instead of focusing on trivial things, like this, Inslee should be focusing on making sure Washingtonians have the resources they need to fight the Wuhan coronavirus. If anything, he should be encouraging his residents not to use these bags while this pandemic continues.