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City of Issaquah

Proposition No. 1

This initiative ordinance to the Council of the City of Issaquah, Washington deals with retail carryout bags.

Currently, City law prohibits retail establishments from providing lightweight plastic carryout bags to customers, requires a minimum 5 cent charge for paper carryout bags, and encourages use of other reusable bags. The proposed initiative ordinance would repeal this law. In addition, the proposed initiative ordinance would require future regulations of retail carryout bags be approved by a majority vote of the City Council and a majority vote of the citizens at an election.

Should this initiative ordinance be enacted into law?



This Initiative deals with retail carryout bags and would repeal existing law.  In 2012, the Issaquah City Council enacted the existing law (the Ordinance), which prohibits retail establishments from providing lightweight disposable plastic carryout bags to customers. 


Lightweight disposable plastic carryout bags are bags made from plastic or bioplastic that are provided at the check-out stand and are not reusable bags.  The Ordinance defines reusable bags as bags with handles made of cloth, fabric or other material designed for long term multiple reuse.  Bags provided for customers to package items such as fruit, vegetables, frozen foods and meat, as well as bags for dry cleaning and food take-out, are not affected by the Ordinance.


The Ordinance also requires retail establishments to collect and retain a minimum 5 cent charge when providing customers with larger paper carryout bags.  Larger paper bags are 882 cubic inches or larger, approximately the size of a typical grocery bag.  The Ordinance further encourages the use of reusable bags through public education programs and by making reusable bags available from the City at a low cost or free.  The Ordinance became effective on March 1, 2013 for retail establishments 7,500 square feet or over.  For retail establishments under 7,500 square feet, the Ordinance goes into effect July 1, 2014.


The Initiative would repeal the Ordinance.  In addition, the Initiative would require future regulation of retail carryout bags be approved by a majority vote of the City Council and a majority vote of the citizens at an election.


For additional questions regarding this measure contact: Wayne Tanaka - City Attorney 425-447-7000 • 



Vote “Yes” to reject lies that we don’t responsibly reuse our bags!  Over 91% of us either reuse or recycle our plastic bags (Seattle 2007).  More people litter coffee cups than plastic bags.  Shall we ban coffee?

Vote “Yes” because Council insulted our frugality and environmental stewardship.  We trusted them so why did they distrust our responsible reuse of any bag of our choosing… and deny us a vote?

Vote “Yes” because ban sponsor and now-Senator Mullet has slipped language into his statewide ban legislation that schemes to keep denying us a vote!  If Mullet’s SB-5386 had passed in 2013, you would not be reading this or voting your ballot today!  When will Senator Mullet justify his attempt to undercut our citizens initiative rights?

Vote “Yes” because Council’s ban is poisoning Issaquah’s retail economy for shoppers and our wonderful cashiers.  Thousands of Issaquah residents and others now shop in “Free” Klahanie, Bellevue and Renton, depressing sales tax revenues vital to city services.  Sales tax revenues cratered from $1,084,000 in February to $753,000 in March, the first month of ban enforcement.  Is this why Council just raised our property taxes by the maximum allowed 1 percent?

Demand respect, vote “Yes.”

During the first year of this law, Issaquah has saved over ten million plastic bags. There has been a massive reduction in overall bag usage with people using a tiny fraction of the bags they did before.  These bag savings come from Issaquah shoppers bringing their own reusable bags from home or choosing to carry a couple items out to their car rather than waste a bag. 

The idea to eliminate plastic bags came from a group of Girl Scouts who live in Issaquah. The girls saw no need for people to use a plastic bag for 60 seconds and then have it sit in a landfill for 600 years.   The City Council received a lot of testimony from members of our community supporting this legislation.

Someone who is not a resident of our community, with the support of the plastic bag industry, started this repeal effort after failing to overturn a similar law in a much larger city.  He chose Issaquah simply because we are a smaller town.

This law is working. Our community is reducing litter and waste. We are making Issaquah a better place to live for future generations. Please vote no on this initiative.

The UK's Environment Agency recently concluded plastic bags have less environmental impact than paper or cloth bags. Studies showed San Francisco's bag ban spiked illnesses and deaths due to bacterial contamination, outweighing any savings from litter reduction.

Issaquah's sales tax revenues have declined as shoppers go elsewhere because of the ban.

This initiative doesn't force anyone to stop using cloth or paper bags. But it does allow for choice. Vote “Yes”.

Statement submitted by: Craig Keller and Tim Eaves

The plastic bag industry is not being honest with Issaquah residents.

Sales tax receipts in 2013 were higher than 2012.  March of 2013 was 29.1% higher than March of 2012. Issaquah also opened a record number of new businesses.  This law is not harming our local economy.

The City Council held numerous public hearings about bags.

This law is working.  We are making Issaquah a better place to live by reducing waste.  Please vote no!

Statement submitted by: Mark Mullet and Susan Thoman

Simple Majority (RCW 35.17.330)

1259 en-US Production

TTY: Relay 711

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