Lawmaker wants plastic bags banned throughout California


By Megan Hansen, Marin Independent Journal

Assemblyman Marc Levine, in his first piece of legislation, is calling for banning plastic grocery bags throughout California, starting in 2015.

Levine, D-San Rafael, introduced Assembly Bill 158 this month, reviving a similar bill that got stuck in a Senate committee last year after it faced criticism from plastic bag manufacturers and grocers.

“A similar bill was held up in the Senate, but that’s not a reason to advance good public policy,” Levine said. “This is about advancing good environmental policy and best business practices.”

Levine said plastic bags have a drastic impact on the environment, killing hundreds of thousands of marine fish and mammals each year. He said banning them could reduce beach debris by about 10 percent.

Under the bill, grocery stores with more than $2 million in annual sales or retailers with more than 10,000-square-feet of floor space would have to stop offering plastic bags.

These stores would be required to provide free recycled paper bags for their customers through July 30, 2016. After that, Levine said stores could charge a fee for recycled paper bags.

As part of the bill, stores would also be required to sell reusable grocery bags.

It’s no surprise Levine is advancing the legislation, coming from a county where a plastic bag ban has been in place in unincorporated areas since Jan. 1, 2012. Under Marin County’s ban, grocers can charge at least 5 cents for a recycled paper bag.

In addition, Fairfax has banned plastic bags since its residents in 2008 approved the idea with 79 percent majority vote.

Levine said he’s ready to take on critics and fight for the environment.

Levine said the plastic bag ban won’t apply to small bags in the produce area used for fruits and vegetables.

AB158 is being coauthored by Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro, D-Arcata, Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, and Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach. Levine said other legislators have also expressed interest in supporting the bill.

State legislation to ban plastic bags has been debated for several years. In 2010, a bill backed by both grocers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t make it out of the state Legislature due to heavy opposition from the plastics industry.

Last May, Hawaii made headlines when it became the first state to ban plastic bags. San Francisco was the first city in the nation to ban them in 2007.

The last attempt to impose a statewide ban was put forth by termed-out Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, in 2011. Her bill reached the Senate Appropriations Committee after a committee staff analysis indicated the ban would cost $200,000 to implement.

Levine said there are multiple cities and counties throughout the state enacting plastic bag bans, each with different rules and regulations. An uniformed state law would streamline plastic bag reduction efforts.

“We’re trying to make it easier for people, because those laws would apply the same way,” Levine said.

Levine said he’s ready to take on critics and fight for the environment.

“If oil and plastic companies want to put up a fight, we’re on the right side of the argument,” Levine said.


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Comments (7)
  1. Joe Doaks says - Posted: January 29, 2013

    Another libtard wants to control your behavior without solid evidence of a positive result. But he sure feels good.

  2. tahoeadvocate says - Posted: January 29, 2013

    Another example of how government which can’t run its own business knows how the private sector should run theirs.

  3. Bijou Bill says - Posted: January 29, 2013

    I know a great way for right thinking Patriotic Americans who love Freedom and Liberty to prove the need for plastic bags and eliminate those nagging liberal voices forever. A true win-win situation if there ever was one!

    Simply take any one of the hundreds of leftover bags you intend to reuse someday but never will and place it tightly over your head, tie snugly at the neck and in no time at all… problem solved!… and you’ve also made our country and planet a better place to live for everyone!
    :) ;)

  4. tahoedad says - Posted: January 29, 2013

    This is great for California businesses — no more need to waste money providing “free” oil burning, bird & fish killing, trash making plastic bags. Business people here in South Lake Tahoe understand that this makes sense for their bottom lines and the environment too — the Chamber recently polled members, and 82% expressed support for a plastic bag ban here. Similar measures are already in effect in 55 California cities, and 5 counties. I don’t see any movement to reverse those decisions, because they are popular and working.

  5. Dogula says - Posted: January 29, 2013

    Typical leftist, Bijou Bill.
    You think it’s funny to joke about encouraging harm to people who disagree with your opinion.
    Very constructive.

  6. Laketoohigh says - Posted: January 29, 2013

    Funny stuff Bijou Bill.:-) Dogula, is it mandatory to have ones sense of humor surgically removed to be a conservative? Plastic bags kill and pollute. Take $$$’s out of the equation and it’s a no brainer.

  7. Ralph Cramden says - Posted: January 29, 2013

    Geez people, ever walk through a grocery store and happen to notice how much product is already packaged in plastic? Are you going to try to ban all that, too? And what about all the visitors who don’t remember to pack their re-usable bags in their luggage? That happened to me in Hawaii where they have banned plastic bags. It was a real pain making trip after trip up to the condo with armloads of groceries.

    I have no problem with recycling plastic bags, I do it all the time already.

    Why is common sense so hard to find sometimes?