Bag ban repeal initiative certified for Oct. 1 ballot

Homer City Clerk Jo Johnson certified that a citizen initiative to repeal a plastic bag ban had at least the 230 signatures necessary to put the question on the Oct. 1 ballot.

Petition organizer Justin Arnold submitted 300 signatures, and of those, the clerk’s office determined 260 were of registered voters in city limits. To be valid, organizers needed at least 20 percent of the votes cast in the last city election.

Arnold was sent a letter notifying him that his initiative had a sufficient number of signatures, deputy clerk Melissa Jacobsen said this week.

The ban went into effect Jan. 1, but allows businesses to use up supplies of plastic bags purchased last year. 

The ordinance does not ban bags sold for household and business use, produce and meat bags, bags for bulk items and bags for dog poop disposal. 

It only bans merchants from giving away disposable plastic bags 2.25 mils thick — a bag about one-third the thickness of a sheet of 20-pound weight copy paper — that are designed to carry customer purchases from the store. The bag industry often calls these “T-shirt” bags because of the resemblance to a shirt.

The Homer City Council passed the ban in a 4-2 vote on Aug. 27, 2012. After it was vetoed by former Mayor James Hornaday, the council also overturned Hornaday’s veto in a 4-2 vote.

Arnold said he started the initiative out of a philosophical belief that government should not over-regulate citizens.

“It’s not as much about the plastic bags to me, it’s about the idea that our government is becoming a nanny,” he said.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at