By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – The state legislature is considering a statewide ban on plastic bags. Under a bill at the Capitol, plastic bags, straws and stirrers would be outlawed by July of next year.

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The bill includes a phase-in period. For the first year, stores would be required to charge at least ten cents per bag, a portion of which they would get to keep.

Starting in July 2021, stores couldn’t buy any new bags to sell and would have to use all existing inventory by December. After that, any store that provides plastic bags could be fined up to $100.

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Bill sponsor Alex Valdez says the bill will bring uniformity to, what is now, a patchwork system of fees.

“We’re trying to move the ball forward. I think there was a time when you had the choice between leaded gasoline and unleaded gasoline, even though leaded gasoline wasn’t good for the environment,” said Valdez. “There was a time when you could choose Freon instead of the new coolant for your air conditioner. We make these changes because we feel they’re the best for all of us.”

Opponents argue the decision should be up to local governments. Representative Tim Geitner said the bill will also be difficult to enforce.

“When it references a reusable bag, which reusable bags are permissible, it says that reusable bag has to be used for at least 125 uses. How do you measure 125 uses?” said Geitner. “There’s so much about this bill you can’t enforce, you can’t, that you can’t investigate. It just seems like it’s more activist driven, I think, than anything.”

The exceptions to the ban include plastic bags for bulk items like fruits, vegetables, nuts or candy, hardware items like nails and screws, flowers, bakery goods, and dry cleaning bags.

In addition to a ban on plastic bags and straws, lawmakers are also considering a ban on take-out Styrofoam containers. A separate bill would bar restaurants and delis from using the containers starting in January of 2022.

Both the bag bill and Styrofoam bill passed their first committee hearing Monday, with democrats for and republicans opposed.

Shaun Boyd