The “Straw Girls” smile in front of the Washington State Capitol building in Olympia. Photo courtesy of Angela Pifer

The “Straw Girls” smile in front of the Washington State Capitol building in Olympia. Photo courtesy of Angela Pifer

Kirkland students travel to Olympia to support plastic straw ban

Lake Washington High School students and the “Straw Kids” testified for SB 5077.

The proposed statewide ban on single-use plastic straws had a committe hearing on Jan. 24, and students from Kirkland — including some from Lake Washington High School who convinced their local legislator to sponsor the legislation and the elementary-age “Straw Kids” — traveled to Olympia to testify on its behalf.

The bill, SB 5077, is sponsored by state Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue), who represents the 48th district. On Feb. 15, her bill was passed from the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology committee to the Rules committee for a second reading.

“It’s not going to be the silver bullet solution to all plastic pollution by any means,” Kuderer told the Reporter in previous coverage. “But this is a very good start while we continue focusing and discussing on ways to deal with the larger issue of plastic bags and other plastics that are in our oceans and waters.”

Kuderer said she got the idea from Lake Washington’s AP government class, but was concerned about its impact on people with disabilities, “who really need these straws because of medical conditions.” Still, she said “the trade off for the environment is really quite significant.”

The “Straw Kids” — Megan O’Reilly, Becky Hinckley, Kaileigh Peterson and Cora Batterberry, who are in fourth and fifth grade at Community School in Kirkland, with Geneva Betnel of Shoreline — are concerned about the large amounts of plastic that end up in the ocean, polluting the water and killing wildlife.

They have spoken to city councils in Redmond, Kirkland, Shoreline and Edmonds. They also met Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the March for Science in 2018. See www.strawkids.com for more.

State Sen. Guy Palumbo (D-Maltby), who is co-sponsoring SB 5077, wrote on Twitter that the girls had the “Best. Testimony. Ever!!!!”

But not all of the testimony was in support of the ban.

Shaun Bickley, a communications specialist for disability rights group The Arc of King County, spoke about concerns for those who specifically need plastic straws to drink water. He said that efforts would be better spent banning larger plastics that are not essential to some with disabilities to access hydration, like plastic lids and utensils.

“Honestly I’m just very horrified because I’ve mostly heard people who are not affected by this issue assume that everything’s going to be fine. Name dropping the disability community doesn’t mean anything if you’re not going to listen to us,” said Bickley. “The disability community has opposed straw bans, including in Seattle.”

Environment, Energy and Technology committee chair Sen. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) said Kuderer had requested an early hearing date to open up conversations with the disability community.

Kuderer, Lake Washington students and the Straw Kids all acknowledged the impact to the disability community and called for conversations about ways to accommodate those affected.

“The bill was attempting to balance the need to help our environment and also to not cause unintended consequences to those who really need these straws because of medical conditions,” Kuderer said.

The bill was amended to note that “in recognition that a straw is an adaptive utensil that may provide basic accommodation for persons with disabilities to eat and drink, a food service establishment must provide a single-use plastic straw upon request to persons with disabilities.”

Emma Scher of the WNPA Olympic News Bureau contributed to this report.

This story was updated at 12:15 p.m. on Feb. 20.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

Becky Hinckley, Kaileigh Peterson, Cora Batterberry, Geneva Betnel and Megan O’Reilly went to the Washington State Capitol to testify in support of a statewide plastic straw ban. Photo courtesy of Angela Pifer

Becky Hinckley, Kaileigh Peterson, Cora Batterberry, Geneva Betnel and Megan O’Reilly went to the Washington State Capitol to testify in support of a statewide plastic straw ban. Photo courtesy of Angela Pifer

More in News

King County Council has nine members who each represent a district. Courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County Council passes $12.59 billion biennial budget

King County Council on Nov. 17 passed a $12.59 billion biennial budget… Continue reading

pexels
EvergreenHealth receives stroke care certification

The hospital system was able to demonstrate quality care and an advanced stroke program

State Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) authored the letter to Gov. Jay Inslee. Mullet represents the 5th Legislative District. File photo
Democratic lawmakers ask Inslee to lift ban on indoor dining

They want to try to scaling back on occupancy before forcing an end to inside service.

Tim Eyman get in some last minute campaigning for I-976 in downtown Bellevue on the afternoon of Nov. 5, 2019. File photo
Eyman fights allegation he repeatedly broke campaign laws

In a lawsuit, the state accuses the prolific initiative promoter of getting kickbacks.

Kabal Gill, owner of East India Grill in Federal Way, wears gloves to hand over take-out orders at his restaurant. File photo
State halts indoor service at bars, restaurants, home guests

Amid soaring new coronavirus cases and an overburdened health care system, the state’s clamping down.

Screenshot from Gov. Jay Inslee’s news conference Nov. 12 with his wife, Trudi.
Inslee to hold news conference to announce new restrictions

Among them, reportedly, will be a ban on indoor service at restaurants and retail limitations.

Photo of the 48th district
Election Day results in for 48th Legislative District

Slatter and Walen lead in early results for 48th Legislative District

Aaron Kunkler/staff photoAlvin Sweet is a resident of Martin Court in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Martin Court is a former motel which was transformed into a supportive housing complex two decades ago. New funding from King County’s Health through Housing ordinance could expand this type of program across the county.
King County wants to buy motels for emergency, affordable housing

The concept has proven results in addressing homelessness.

Say Their Names display at St. John’s Episcopal Church at 105 State St. S, Kirkland. Courtesy Photo/Morgan Petroski Photography
Kirkland churches display Say Their Names memorial

The public display is part of a nationwide memorial campaign out of Portland, Oregon.

Courtesy photo
State demanded more drop boxes, and now it must pay for them

A King County judge says a law requiring more ballot boxes was an illegal unfunded mandate.

King County 2020 unemployment numbers. Source: Washington State Employment Security Department
Boeing, coronavirus likely to impact King County economy

Unemployment remained high in September.

File photo
State Supreme Court strikes down $30 car-tab initiative

Justices unanimously agreed that voter-approved Initiative 976 is unconstitutional.