Oregon Plastic Straw Limit Bill Amended, Advances

Oregon lawmakers came closer to plastic straw limits in Oregon last week.

Originally, Senate Bill 90 would have barred restaurants from offering plastic straws unless a customer specifically requested one.  But, the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee has now drafted more than a dozen amendments, hoping to the bill out of committee.

“Colleagues, who would have expected 12 amendments on a bill dealing with plastic straws?” state Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, said at Thursday’s hearing.

Sen. Alan Olsen, R-Canby, shot back: “Who would have expected a bill dealing with plastic straws?”

Lawmakers have been debating for weeks: Should regulations only apply to full-service restaurants — not fast food places, for instance.  A preemption that could have dismantled Portland straw regulation was also considered. There’s been discussion surrounding the dangers of drinking beverages while driving without a straw versus with a reusable metal straw.

In the end, compromises were reached, and an amendment passed:

  • Convenience stores would be free to include boxes of bulk straws out by soda fountains if there’s not enough room behind the counter for a clerk to keep them.
  • Fast food drive-thrus will be allowed to proactively ask customers if they want a straw, rather than waiting for a request.
  • Cities and counties would be pre-empted from enacting their own straw regulations, once a statewide law went into effect. It would leave Portland’s regulations intact.