The Jackson Town Council directed staff during its workshop Monday afternoon to draft an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags as well as a nondiscrimination ordnance.
While the town enacted a nondiscrimination resolution in 2015, without the power to adjudicate a complaint, it was largely a public statement of the town’s values and expectations.
After several members of the public asked for more aggressive protections, the council decided to elevate the resolution to an ordinance with criminal consequences for those convicted of discrimination.
“Unfortunately, there is discrimination in our community,” Councilman Jim Stanford said. “But there’s no better way to head it off than to put everybody on notice and pass this ordinance.”
The plastic bag ban also saw widespread support.
“When we look back 50 years from now, we’ll ask ourselves, ‘What were we thinking?’” Mayor Pete Muldoon said. “This is a no-brainer, especially for our community, which is a leader in conservation.”
The details of the ordinance, including when the ban would go into effect and whether it would be issued townwide or only in specific venues like grocery stores that give out a disproportionate number of the 5 million plastic bags used in Teton County every year, still need to be worked out. But the council’s unanimous and emphatic support of the ordinance was a positive sign for nearly everyone in the council chambers Monday.
“In 2011 I supported this plastic bag ban when I was in your position, and here we are seven years later,” former councilor Greg Miles said. “It was time to get it done in 2011; it’s time to get it done now.”
With full support from the council, staff will bring back an ordinance with several options for implementation. Councilman Don Frank supported a phased approach to avoid any economic impacts on businesses, though others preferred that a townwide ban be enacted as soon as possible, provided businesses were given time to adjust their practices.
Staff members said they will come forward with an ordinance in the next few months with several options for implementation.
Councilman Jim Stanford noted that by using language crafted by other mountain towns like Vail, Crested Butte and Aspen in Colorado, an ordinance could be enacted quickly and without too much pressure on the town’s staff.
An in-depth look at Teton County’s use of plastic and how the ban could help can be found in Wednesday’s Jackson Hole News&Guide.