Best Legislation

The bag fee
Not since the smoking ban has local nanny-statism made such a positive impact on the way District residents live. Since the bag fee became law, the decline in plastic bag use has been dramatic—50 percent or more, according to merchants. Residents have embraced reusable bags—no longer the domain of hippies and food co-ops—with little fuss. Giant gave out 250,000 bags. The District government handed out 25,000. Credit goes to the bill’s author, Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells. His staff researched the bill for a year before introducing it. He became the Al Gore of the John A. Wilson Building, giving PowerPoint presentations to his colleagues and in numerous senior centers. His lobbying even won over Marion Barry, who, as the representative for the District’s poorest ward, might have had some reason to object to the fee. But, Wells says, Barry became an enthusiastic ally. How enthusiastic? “When we did our press conference for the bill, we did it along the Anacostia River on a chilly, high-wind day,” Wells recalls. “When I got there, Barry was already there sitting in his car by himself with his heater on.…How often do you see him at an event early?”