One bill eligible for consideration in special session is House Bill 56. That bill contains a provision to repeal the state ban on Outer Banks retailers using plastic bags. Retailers up and down the Outer Banks have signed support for repeal.

Under the ban, merchants can use paper bags as substitutes, but only if they satisfy these criteria:

  • the paper bag comprises at least 40 percent recycled paper and is clearly marked as such
  • the merchant offers a per-bag cash refund for customers who bring in their own bags instead of use the merchant’s

Not every merchant supports repeal, of course. Many others would welcome the repeal — especially small retailers, because it would remove an unnecessary expense and administrative burden from them.

It’s hard to see what merchants against repeal have going for them. After all, lifting the ban on plastic bags is not the same as a mandating they use plastic bags. Restoring freedom and choice is not tyrannizing in the opposite direction.