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Assemblywoman Shannon Grove celebrates failure of California plastic bag ban

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A new California bill that would have banned most single-use plastic bags from grocery and convenience stores failed yesterday on a 38-33 vote. Bakersfield Assemblywoman Shannon Grove was one of those who opposed the measure.

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Senate Bill 270 would have prohibited certain stores from distributing lightweight, single-use plastic bags after specified dates in 2015 and 2016. The bill sailed through the California Senate, passing on a vote of 37 - 0 in April of last year. However, the bill encountered increased opposition after being introduced into the Assembly.

In addition to the ban, the bill would have established a minimum price of $0.10 per bag that such stores would have to charge customers for recycled paper bags and reusable bags, specified where the money collected from those sales be spent, and required civil penalties of $1,000 for the first violation of the proposed law, $2,000 for the second violation, and $5,000 for each subsequent violation.

The bill followed in the footsteps of plastic bag bans that have already been adopted across California. Eighty-seven cities and counties, including San Francisco, San Jose, Long Beach, Los Angeles County, Santa Clara County, and Alameda County, have adopted ordinances with similar requirements to SB-270. Some charge a fee for a paper carryout bag and others ban those bags as well as banning single-use plastic bags.

Bakersfield Assemblywoman Grove trumpeted the failure of the bill on her website and in a press release referred to it as part of the "Legislature's war on …. Plastic grocery bags!"

She went on to say that, “The California Assembly finally resisted the temptation to pass another law that does more harm than good. The proposed law would have required Californians to either bring their own reusable bags to the grocery store or pay for each paper bag to bring home their groceries. Does it never end? Can’t this Legislature leave the consumers, and the job producers, and the hard working families alone for a while and not set up more costly gimmicks to ‘save the environment’?"

On the other hand, the bill's sponsor, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles), has explained previously why such a bill is necessary, saying, “California uses an estimated 14 billion single-use plastic bags a year. According to CalRecycle, less than five percent of single-use plastic bags are recycled. Plastic bags cause litter, slow sorting and jam machinery at recycling centers costing California more than an estimated $25 million each year to collect and bury the plastic bag waste. By banning plastic bags on a statewide level, the amount of litter and plastic marine debris caused by plastic bags can be significantly reduced.”