May 11th, 2011 | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: Environment, Legislature, Politics

GOP Senator on Plastic Bag Ban: 'I'm Pretty Optimistic'

Jason Atkinson

 Today's Murmurs column notes that state Sen. Mark Hass (D-Raleigh Hills) believes his bill to make Oregon the first state to ban plastic grocery bags may not come up for a vote this legislative session.

On Tuesday we caught up with the bill's other co-sponsor: Sen. Jason Atkinson (R-Central Point). Atkinson sits on the Senate Rules Committee, where the bag ban is currently parked and where Hass expressed hope that the bill may yet see life in late-session bargaining.

Atkinson sounded more sanguine about the chances of moving the bill out of the Rules Committee, which has a reputation in Salem for back-room deals and last-minute horsetrading. Atkinson has served there since 1999.

"I've always loved the Rules Committee," he says. "That's how I think very optimistically that we'll be able to get the bill onto the floor and get it to pass."

That last step—passing the Senate—may be a tall order. The Senate is divided 16-14 in Democrats' favor. But Hass says the Senate is split 15-15 on the bag ban.

Atkinson says he may have influence.

"I'm a simple country boy, but I do know the art of diplomacy," Atkinson says. "There's a lot of life to live between now and June.

 
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