Homer Mayor Vetoes Plastic Bag Ban

Veto Sets Up Further Discussion at Monday's Council Meeting
Aaron Selbig


Homer’s new city ordinance banning the use of disposable plastic shopping bags might not have a chance to become law, after all. The plastic bag ban was vetoed by Mayor Jim Hornday Friday morning, setting up another vote Monday night.

Hornaday, who has decided not to run for reelection this year and only has a few more weeks left in office, acknowledged that his veto of the controversial plastic bag ban would cause some folks in the community some consternation.

But Hornaday is serious about his veto. He says he talked to some council members about coming to some sort of compromise – like when grocery stores used to offer the option of paper or plastic.

"I'm really torn about this," said Hornaday. "I've seen the seal pups at the Pribilof Islands with the plastic around them so I know it's a bad thing ... but it just seems like we have so many regulations."

Hornaday has a couple of specific concerns with the ordinance the way it is written. He doesn’t think the section regarding penalties for violations is well thought and he’s concerned that violators could potentially be fined 50-dollars per bag if they are found to be out of compliance.

"I don't really see how we're going to enforce this," said Hornaday.

An editorial this week in the Homer News called on Hornaday to veto the plactic bag ban. The editorial agreed with proponents of the ban that plastic shopping bags are an environmental nuisance. It said that most people in Homer would likely want to do something about that problem but they do not want to be – quote – “backed into a corner and forced to do it.” The editorial questioned whether the city council might be trading one environmental problem for another if local stores make the switch from plastic back to paper bags.

Hornaday says he did not see the Homer News editorial until Friday, after he had issued his veto. But he has been getting a lot of feedback from members of the community about the ordinance.

Homer City Clerk Jo Johnson says that, after a mayoral veto the city council will have 21 days to respond to it. Am override of eth veto would require a tw-thirds vote.

Johnson says the council will take up the matter at its meeting Monday night. Members of the public will have a chance to comment at the beginning of that meeting.

The last time Hornaday exercised his veto power was in 2009, when he vetoed an increase in the city’s water and sewer rates. Council members later overturned his veto.

Later that same year, former council member Dennis Novak, who was filling in as mayor while Hornaday was out of state, vetoed an ordinance that established new rules for constructing small wind energy systems within the city limits. His veto was also later overridden by the council.

The Homer City Council meeting is scheduled for Monday night at 6 p.m. at Homer City Hall. The meeting will be broadcast live on KBBI.