Under the Dome

Stein's bill would sack most uses of plastic bags

March 30, 2009 

A bill to reduce the use of plastic bags was born out of Raleigh Democratic Sen. Josh Stein's concern about their effect on the environment.

"I'm driving down the road right now and looking out my window, and in the trees and in the gutters and on the fences, everywhere are plastic bags," he said. "I don't want North Carolina's state flower to be the plastic bag; I want it to be the dogwood."

The bill would ban plastic bags at major retailers, with the exception of uses for fresh produce, fresh meat and fresh fish. Smaller retailers could continue to use plastic bags.

Stein said most people would switch to reusable plastic and cloth bags, which can cost as little as a dollar. Others would use recyclable paper bags.

Either would be preferable to plastic, he said.

"We consume hundreds of millions of these bags every year, and only one to three percent get recycled," he said.

Mumma joins law group

Christine Mumma has joined the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law.

Mumma is the executive director of the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence, a Durham nonprofit that works to free those who are wrongly convicted.

She will join the Institute's board of directors.

The Institute for Constitutional Law, a Raleigh nonprofit, has sued the state, arguing the lottery and corporate incentives are unconstitutional. It is run by former Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr.

She ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate as a Republican in 2004.

The institute also named retired UNC-Chapel Hill law professor Ronald Link as chairman of the board.

Burr revs up campaign

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr has launched his campaign Web site - www.burrforsenate.com.

The Winston-Salem Republican has made no secret that he is running for re-election in 2010, though no Democratic challenger has emerged.

Burr says on the site: "My work in the Senate is focused on building a stronger economy for everyone, restoring fiscal restraint in Washington, addressing the health care needs of Americans, making our country safer from the threat of terrorists, making sure our armed forces are equipped as needed, and to represent North Carolina family values in Washington."

He also has a Twitter feed at twitter.com/burrforsenate.

Cancer bill wins backing

Elizabeth Edwards has endorsed U.S. Senate legislation that declares a renewed war on cancer.

The bill, introduced by Sens. Ted Kennedy and Kay Bailey Hutchison, is the most sweeping cancer legislation in Congress since Kennedy's bill in 1971, according to his office.

The Kennedy/Hutchison bill would try to foster better research by linking various organizations and national cancer registries and by boosting funding. It would increase the focus on rare cancers with low survival rates, and would establish a state grant program for colorectal cancers.

The bill also would provide expanded access to clinical trials and set up a new biomarker program for early detection.

Edwards, who has an incurable cancer, endorsed the legislation in a statement released by the senators' offices.

"We know how to lengthen and improve the lives of people with cancer, but we've chosen as a nation to turn our backs on some of us who have the disease," Edwards said.

A meeting on education

Gov. Beverly Perdue will lead a town hall meeting on education this week.

Perdue will lead an hourlong discussion on education and work force development at Cape Fear Community College at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

She will be joined by Scott Ralls, president of the N.C. Community College System, and Bill Harrison, chairman and CEO of the State Board of Education.

The meeting is open to the public.

By staff writer Ryan Teague Beckwith and Washington correspondent Barbara Barrett.

ryan.teague.beckwith@newsobserver.com or 919-812-4955

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