PLASTIC BAGS, VA HOME and OPENING DAY. An Update From Councilman Oravits 1/18/15

Mayor Nabours and I attended the opening of the 52nd Arizona Legislature this past Monday. We had the opportunity to chat with our delegation, Senator Allen and Representatives Barton and Thorpe. They were excited to hear that the city council is donating land for a VA Home in Flagstaff. This will need $10,000,000 from the state and $20,000,000 from the federal government to complete. We also had the opportunity to hear Governor Ducey’s State of the State address as well as meeting with Speaker Gowen and President Biggs.

Tuesdays council meeting had only one item on it, a potential ban on point of sale plastic bags. Council heard about three hours of presentations and public comment on this issue. The Sustainability Commission recommended by a vote of 5-2 to ban point of sale plastic bags. Many people spoke in favor of this ban, many were opposed. Despite this difference of oppinion, most everyone is in agreement about finding ways to limit the amount of these bags entering our landfill.

I have been very clear on this issue. I am not in favor of a ban but I am not in favor of doing nothing either. I asked many questions Tuesday night and asked for more information on this issue. In particular, I want to see recycle options more readily available. One suggestion that caught my attention was to find a way that residents can place a bag full of bags in their current recycle bin. There are many places that use this material, such as the Trex plant in Nevada. Let’s look at all these solutions and come up with a way to reduce the amount of bags entering the landfill.

This issue will come back to council in March.

Friday I went to Sedona as a member of the Northern Arizona Municipal Water Association. One key issue we discussed was new federal rules regarding water issues on National Forest lands. This includes the effects of wells on NF lands and impacts of wells neighboring these lands. Arizona has very little private land and vast amounts of land held by the federal government. We have to make sure that the federal government understands the unique nature of land ownership in Arizona and how different it is from back east where vast amounts of water and private land exist. Concerns were raised by other Northern Arizona cities regarding these new rules and potential negative impacts on our state. Senators Flake and McCain have also raised concerns over similar issues and legislation is pending.

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