Council tables plastic bag ban, passes parking rate hikes, vehicle weight tax

Council tables plastic bag ban, passes parking rate hikes, vehicle weight tax
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A controversial measure to ban all plastic shopping bags has been shelved by the Honolulu City Council.

The measure would have banned all plastic check out bags outright by the year 2020. But in a council vote Wednesday, the measure was re-referred to the council's Public Works committee for further hearings.

Current law allows Oahu businesses to hand out compostable and reusable plastic bags that are at least 2.5 milliliters thick.

Environmental activists blame backroom politics, but some say the bill would have been too much of a burden on businesses.

"We don't know what goes on behind the scenes and the politics that goes on," Stuart Coleman of the Surfrider Foundation said. "You know it's the right thing to do."

"This law not only places extraordinary burden on the business, but forces the customers to pay a fee. Government should not get in the way of over-regulating businesses," Mililani resident Katherine Kupukaa said.

The full Council also voted to increase the vehicle weight tax, bus fares and parking rates for Downtown, Chinatown and Waikiki.

Some council members say the higher fees are necessary to balance the budget without raising property taxes, but others say the city should cut its spending first.

"With regards to having these property taxes, I would pretty much say that we dodged that bullet for now. But we're not out of the woods," councilman Joey Manahan said.

Meanwhile, Honolulu's controversial rail project survived a crucial vote.

The council voted issue $350 million dollars in bonds to HART to help finish construction.

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