Council approves body camera and bag-ban bills

The City Council Monday night passed one bill equipping police officers with body cameras, and another banning plastic bags from the city, with exceptions for carry-out restaurants. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has promised to veto both bills, but it looked like the council might have enough votes to override the veto on the body-camera bill.

The body-camera bill passed 13-1, with only Rochelle "Rikki" Spector (5th District) voting no. Twelve votes are required to override a veto.

The bag pan passed 10-1, with Spector again voting no and Councilmen Brandon M. Scott (2nd District), Eric Costello (11th District), and William "Pete" Welch (9th District) abstaining. Councilman Edward Reisinger (10th District) was absent. According to a tweet from the Sun's Luke Broadwater, "Costello says he meant to vote yes on the plastic bag ban, not abstain."

Spector stated her opposition to a "process," by which, she says, a proposed nickel-per-bag fee morphed into the ban. On the council's regular Monday lunch meeting before the Nov. 10 council meeting, Spector says, she asked if the bill was being amended. "Three times," she says, "I was told 'come to the 4:30 press conference.'"

It was there the bag bill's sponsor, Councilman James Kraft of the 1st District, announced that the fee that was at the bill's center would disappear in favor of a ban. Tonight he explained the process, which in fact stretches back seven years and many bills. In committee hearing after committee hearing, Kraft says, the options were laid out and the same arguments for and against made by the same players: environmentalist types on one side, urging a tax, fee, or outright ban—anything to get the damn things out of the waterways—and on the other side the chemical industry which, Kraft says, fears "that if we act against the bags, containers are next."

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