A new bill that would prohibit the distribution of single-use plastic bags at grocery and convenience stores finally passed the California Assembly today on a 44-29 vote. SB-270, introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles), was opposed by many, including Bakersfield Assemblywoman Shannon Grove who likened it to a "...war on ...Plastic grocery bags!" Grove's vote was instrumental in helping to defeat the bill earlier this week by a vote of 38-33.
Additional support for the bill appeared to be the result of a change in position of a major grocery store workers union. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) had switched from originally supporting the bill to opposing it because of a requirement that a minimum fee of $0.10 per paper or reusable bag be charged to consumers. However, for as yet unrevealed reasons - neither its website nor its Facebook page shows any comment on today's vote at this time - the UCFW decided to once again support the bill.
Some have speculated that the union has made a back room deal with a major grocer, Safeway, and/or the California Grocers Association. According to Jon Fleishman of Flashreport.org, UCFW opposed the bill on August 25 because of the bag fee, then supported the bill two days later after reaching an agreement with Safeway, a major grocery chain in California.
Because of revisions made to the original Senate bill in the state Assembly, it now must be passed by the state Senate. In order for it to happen this year, that vote must be made by August 31 which is the date this year's legislative session ends. If approved, the final step will be for Governor Brown to sign off on it.