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Paper Receipts to Survive in California

State Rep. Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, displays a long paper receipt as he discusses his bill to require businesses to offer electronic receipts.

State Rep. Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, displays a long paper receipt as he discusses his bill to require businesses to offer electronic receipts. Rich Pedroncelli/AP Images

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Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Proposal in Alaska would limit events in breweries .. Austin City Council tries to move homeless encampments off sidewalks … Chicago Mayor spars over gun violence during Labor Day weekend.

A bill before the California legislature that would have required stores to ask customers if they want a receipt before printing one failed to be voted out of committee. The bill had been reduced in scope from its original proposal, which would have required businesses by 2022 to provide customers with an electronic receipt unless a paper one was requested. The reworked proposal would have required stores to ask customers if they’d like a receipt, and also would have mandated that stores not include coupons or advertisements on receipts unless they were asked for, as well as banning certain chemicals from paper receipts that make them difficult or impossible to recycle. State Rep. Phil Ting, a Democrat, said the bill was meant to reduce paper waste, as 180,000 tons of paper receipts are produced each year nationwide. “It empowered consumers to ask for a receipt. It empowered consumers to ask for a coupon. This is about giving the power back to consumers to really ensure there was less waste in California. We think this bill made a lot of sense and had clear environmental impacts,” he said, adding that he would likely introduce the bill again next year. But the American Forest and Paper Association, an industry group that opposed the bill, said that receipts make up only a small percentage of paper waste each year. “We’re pleased that legislators recognized paper receipts are not only preferred by the majority of consumers, but are also safe for consumers and employees,” said Jessica Mause of the group Keep the Receipt, which was organized by the American Forest and Paper Association. Advocates said that paper receipts would be one of the easiest sources of paper waste to eliminate. “If we are looking at reducing waste, probably the easiest thing we can do is get rid of the material that someone hands us that we don’t want that we hold onto until we get to the next trash can and then throw away,” said Nick Lapis of Californians Against Waste. California is not the only state to consider regulations of paper receipts. Earlier in the year, Illinois lawmakers banned receipts that contain BPA, a chemical found in about 20% of receipts that has been linked to cancer. [Los Angeles Times; CBS San Francisco; Antelope Valley Press]

BREWERY RESTRICTIONS | A proposal before the Alaska Alcohol Beverage Control Board would restrict festivals, competitions, classes, and parties advertised to the general public at breweries and distilleries in the state. Brewery owners are now calling on the state legislature to rewrite alcohol regulation laws, so that less authority is left to the ABC Board. Darcy Kniefel, who works at a brewery in Anchorage, said that the draft regulation is too vague, and would potentially ban events like tours and charity fundraisers.  “We were really surprised to see this come out, it really came out of nowhere,” he said. Julie Anderson, the community and economic development commissioner for the state’s Department of Commerce, also said she had issues with the proposed rule changes. “We have serious concerns that this regulation is overly restrictive [and] exceeds the legislature’s intent...We will be discussing these concerns with the board," Anderson said. But state Rep. Jennifer Johnston, a Republican, said that the legislature should be doing more, writing statutes that can keep up with the changing industry. “I don’t really blame [the board] for coming up with a new regulation when we as legislators should have been dealing with it,” she said. [Anchorage Daily News; KTUU]

HOMELESS ENCAMPMENTS | A memo circulating within the Austin city government shows that some city officials are pondering applying e-scooter parking regulations to homeless encampments. E-scooters parked on the sidewalk must allow at least three feet of passage for pedestrians, an idea that could now be applied to homeless people, so that their belongings must be placed in a way that allows for pedestrians to get by. “In the same manner that parking micro-mobility devices can obstruct pedestrian traffic, the objects belonging to individuals experiencing homelessness could also obstruct pedestrian traffic,” the memo reads. A spokesperson for the city said that Austin is also looking at banning homeless encampments in high-traffic areas. “Floodways, busy sidewalks, roads were not built for people to live and sleep on. These places are not healthy nor safe for the people trying to live there, and living there then creates additional safety concerns for pedestrian accessibility, and being accidentally hit by a motorist,” said the spokesperson. Mayor Steve Adler said that he supports the proposal. “I have seen people camping and sitting in this city in places that are dangerous, and we need to prevent that,” he said. [CBS Austin; Austin Monitor]

GUN VIOLENCE | Labor Day weekend saw a rash of gun violence in Chicago, with seven people dead and 31 people wounded. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas criticized city leadership over gun control efforts on Twitter. “Gun control doesn’t work. Look at Chicago. Disarming law-abiding citizens isn’t the answer. Stopping violent criminals—prosecuting & getting them off the street—BEFORE they commit more violent crimes is the most effective way to reduce murder rates,” he tweeted. The gun laws in Illinois are stricter than most states, requiring a background check and permit for purchase; most recovered guns used for crime in Chicago have been traced back to out-of-state dealers, which Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot pointed out in her response to Cruz on Twitter. “60% of illegal firearms recovered in Chicago come from outside IL—mostly from states dominated by coward Republicans like you who refuse to enact common-sense gun legislation...When [Ted Cruz and the GOP] dismiss common sense gun policies, they disrespect victims and their families, who deserve to live without pain and fear,” she wrote. [The Hill; CBS Chicago]

STRAIGHT PRIDE | A “straight pride” parade happened in Boston over the weekend, leading to more than 30 arrests of protestors. The parade itself was only two minutes long and included 200 people, many of whom were waving Trump 2020 flags. Organizers of the event said that the parade was intended to “educate the public about straight issues and foster unity and respect.” Critics said the parade was homophobic and police used too much force, as video showed police pepper spraying the crowd and pushing them back from the street. Now, the head of the police union in Boston is calling for the prosecution of protestors. “They should all be prosecuted. We’re made up of laws, and people have to follow them. If you can do anything with impunity, that’s when things start to slide downhill and we end up in a bad place,” said Michael Leary, the head of the union. City officials said that the police conduct at the event is under internal review, and Mayor Marty Walsh said he was dismayed to hear about the use of pepper spray. “What I don’t want is a repeat of what happened in Charlottesville. That’s why we brought in so much security here, to make sure that people are safe,” he said. [Boston Herald; The Advocate]

Emma Coleman is the assistant editor for Route Fifty. 

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