Minnesota State Sen. John Marty (D-Roseville) introduced a bill Thursday that would make the distribution of “single-use plastic straws” by restaurants a “petty misdemeanor.”
“A restaurant must not provide a single-use plastic straw to a customer unless the customer requests a straw or selects a straw from a self-service dispenser,” Senate File (SF) 756 stipulates.
“Nothing in this section precludes a restaurant from providing customers with non-plastic straws as an alternative to single-use plastic straws, including but not limited to straws made from paper, sugar cane, or bamboo,” the bill adds.
If passed, violation of the bill would result in a “petty misdemeanor” for non-compliant restaurants. The bill would apply to any restaurant that “operates from a location for more than 21 days annually,” excluding food carts and mobile food units.
SF 754 currently has three DFL co-sponsors, including State Sens. Foung Hawj (D-St. Paul), Steve Cwodzinski (D-Eden Prairie), and Jim Carlson (D-Eagan). It was referred Thursday to the Commerce and Consumer Protection Finance and Policy Committee for a hearing.
As City Pages notes, the conversation surrounding a plastic-straw ban began in Minnesota in 2018 when individual businesses started implementing bans. The iconic music venue First Avenue and 7th St. Entry announced in March 2018 that it would “no longer automatically serve a plastic straw with your beverage order.”
Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, which owns Minnesota restaurants like Big Bowl, Wildfire, and Twin City Grill, phased out plastic straws in October 2018.
“At first, our goal was to eliminate the use of straws altogether. However, we recognized some people will still require one, so the most difficult part has been identifying viable alternatives and ensuring their availability,” Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises President R.J. Melman said at the time.
“We anticipate some people will get upset about it,” Melman added. “But we will have great alternatives for those people. We compare it to non-smoking restaurants where at one time it was met with great opposition, but today you don’t even think about smoking/non-smoking sections.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “John Marty” by John Marty. Photo “Foung Hawj” by Foung Hawj.