What? You thought state legislators already passed and the governor signed into law a statewide ban on single-use plastic carryout bags?
Well, you are correct. Proposition 67 is déjà vu all over again.
In 2014, such a ban became the law of the land in California. But out-of-state plastic bag manufacturers weren’t happy about that.
So they cooked up the confusing package of propositions we now see on the November ballot that is intended to overturn the ban, one way or another.
If you are concerned about the proliferation of single-use plastic bags, such as the ones we get at the grocery store, clogging up our waterways, littering our streets and yards, and endangering our wildlife, here’s what you need to do: Vote yes on Prop. 67 and no on Prop. 65.
Prop. 67 is a referendum placed on the ballot by plastic bag manufacturers to block implementation of Senate Bill 270, the 2014 law that imposed a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. Just putting the referendum on the November ballot temporarily stopped implementation of the ban.
Now, plastic bag manufacturers want voters to vote no on Prop. 67, which would permanently kill the single-use plastic bag ban.
As of June 2016, there are local carryout bag laws in about 150 California cities and counties, covering about 40 percent of the state’s population living mostly in coastal areas. SB 270 did not affect those local laws; rather it applied a ban to the rest of the state.
With a few exceptions, SB 270 prohibited stores from providing single-use plastic carryout bags and required stores to charge customers a fee for paper carryout bags provided at checkout. Commonly the fee is 10 cents a paper bag. Stores get to keep the money to pay for the cost of buying and supplying paper bags.
Here’s where this scheme gets diabolical. Plastic bag manufacturers also cooked up Prop. 65, which slams “money-grubbing” stores for ripping off customers with that despicable surcharge of 10 cents a paper bag. They insist that rather than allowing stores to keep the money, revenue from paper bag charges should go into a new environmental fund to protect California’s environment and wildlife.
You are correct to be skeptical that out-of-state plastic bag manufacturers really give a hoot about California’s environment.
Prop. 65 is just a manufacturers’ ploy to use its depiction of the state’s greedy retailers to whip up voters to oppose a statewide single-use plastic bag ban. It’s also a scheme to whip up retailers to oppose a ban if they get stuck paying for the paper carryout bags.
Consider the possibility of both propositions passing. The one receiving the most votes will decide who keeps the bag fees. But we should also be concerned about the legislative analyst’s conclusion that Prop. 65 could be interpreted by the courts as preventing a statewide ban.
Don’t be fooled. Vote yes on Prop. 67 to support a ban on single-use plastic bags. Vote no on Prop. 65 to foil the plastic bag manufacturers’ ploy to work both sides of the debate.