Bisbee to change disposable bag ordinance to duck budget hit

October 31, 2017

PHOENIX (AP) — Bisbee officials are moving to avoid a possible big budget hit for the southern Arizona city by making voluntary an ordinance that now prohibits retailers from providing shoppers with disposable plastic bags.

The City Council’s decision late Monday responds to state Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s Oct. 24 declaration that Bisbee’s ban enacted in 2013 violates a 2015 state law barring local governments from imposing regulatory mandates on disposable bags.

Brnovich’s review and Bisbee’s response comprised the latest chapter of a series of policy disputes between local governments and the Republican-led Arizona Legislature.

The review of Bisbee’s bag ordinance was Brnovich’s fifth under a 2016 law that allows individual legislators to request reviews of local laws for compliance with state law.

Bisbee faces losing $1.8 million of state-shared revenue, about a quarter of the city’s budget, if it didn’t resolve the violation within the 30-day period set by the 2016 law.

“We can’t lose it,” City Attorney Britt Hanson told the Associated Press on Tuesday. “It would be a death sentence for the city.”

Hanson said the council plans to act next week on the revised ordinance.

It will include a provision to reinstate the mandatory ban if a court rules it’s legal, but the council hasn’t decided whether to go to court to seek such a ruling, he said.

Brnovich reviewed Bisbee’s ordinance after state Republican Sen. Warren Petersen of Gilbert submitted a Sept. 28 complaint under the 2016 law.

The Arizona Supreme Court upheld the 2016 law in an Aug. 17 ruling that said a Tucson ordinance requiring the destruction of guns seized by police conflicted with a state law requiring the weapons be sold.

In an Oct. 16 review, Brnovich concluded that a Phoenix Police Department operations order on immigration-related procedures didn’t conflict with state law.

In other cases, Snowflake revised two facilities’ agreements after Brnovich said they might violate state law, and a lawmaker withdrew a complaint about a Somerton zoning ordinance.

The review requests were filed by five different Republican lawmakers.

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