Hawaii Checkout Bag Fee Not Yet Wrapped Up

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A measure that could give Hawaii the first statewide fee on checkout bags is at a "sensitive" point in negotiations and could be changed dramatically before its conference meeting Wednesday, according to Senate Environment Committee Chair Mike Gabbard.

The fee — which would cover both paper and plastic and ranged from a nickel to a quarter per single-use bag in previous versions — has the support of both environmentalists and retail merchants. But concerns about the impact to consumers have the measure hanging in the balance with key deadlines looming.

"It's very sensitive at this time," Gabbard, the lead negotiator for the Senate and the lead introducer of Senate Bill 1363, told Civil Beat Tuesday. "We're very close but I can't really show my hand right now until I have more of a consensus with more of the players."

He declined to go into detail on the status of negotiations but said he'd spoken with the Hawaii Department of Health and other stakeholders and that the conversation included discussion of potential language not found in any of the five versions debated this year.

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