Last week we reported that Gov. Brown approved the nation's first
statewide ban on single-use plastic shopping bags by signing SB 270
and that opponents of SB 270, including the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA), are in the process of gathering signatures for an initiative that would overturn the new law.
Roughly 505,000 signatures must be collected over the next few months in order to qualify the initiative for the November 2016 ballot. If the initiative qualifies, the provisions of SB 270 would be automatically postponed until at least November 2016. Proponents of the new law are coordinating a 90-day public awareness campaign to prevent the initiative from qualifying. We'll keep everyone posted as developments occur.
Governor Brown has signed the nation’s first statewide plastic bag ban into law. The bill, SB 270, will phase out single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and pharmacies beginning July 1, 2015, and in convenience stores one year later, and allow the sale of recycled paper or reusable bags for no less than 10 cents.
Stores affected by the new law may retain the paper bag fee to pay the cost of complying with the law, the cost of providing paper or reusable bags to persons on public assistance, or for educational campaigns designed to encourage shoppers to use reusable bags. More than 125 local governments have already banned plastic bags.
SB 270 allows cities and counties or other public agencies that have adopted a bag ban to continue to enforce the ordinance if it was adopted before September 1, 2014. Any amendments to those ordinances after January 1, 2015 are pre-empted by the provisions of the bill except if the amendment only increases the amount the store charges for a reusable bag to no less than 10 cents. Bag ban violators may be assessed a civil fine by a city, county, or the state, and the enforcing agency may retain any fines collected.
SB 270 appropriated $2 million for loans to plastic bag manufacturers that wish to re-tool and manufacture reusable bags. Heal the Bay, Surfrider Foundation, Azul, 7th Generation Advisors, and Californian’s Against Waste were the main proponents of SB 270, while the bill’s major opposition came from a coalition of plastic bag manufacturers known as the “American Progressive Bag Alliance.” The latter group is in the process of gathering signatures for an initiative that would overturn the new law. Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico also have pending legislation that would ban single-use bags.
Gov. Brown has until next Tuesday to sign or veto legislation. Yesterday, the governor signed 47 bills and vetoed ten. One of the bills signed into law (SB 1281) requires more transparency about water use in oil and gas drilling. Proponents of the bill say substantial amounts of water are used in some oil-extraction methods, such as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which water mixed with sand and chemicals is injected into rock to tap oil and gas reserves. Like several bills the governor has signed recently, SB 1281 gained momentum as the state’s drought worsened.
Two high profile bills that governor has not yet acted on include SB 270 (Padilla), which would impose a statewide ban on single use plastic shopping bags, and SB 968 (Hill). The latter bill would authorize the State Lands Commission to negotiate with the owner of land near Half Moon Bay or exercise eminent domain to provide public access to Martin’s Beach.
SB may have been rendered moot Wednesday when a San Mateo County judge ruled tentatively that the landowner violated the Coastal Act by denying public access across his property to the beach. The case raises some interesting legal issues since the judge ruled that the landowner will need to apply to the Coastal Commission for a coastal development permit, but SB 968 would require the landowner to deal with State Lands. Although an appeal of this week’s court ruling is expected, SB 968 may limit the landowner’s remedies. We’ll continue tracking SB 270 and SB 968 and keep everyone posted.
The 30th Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day is tomorrow, September 20th. Information as to how you can volunteer for a cleanup in your area is available here.
With less than two weeks before the governor must act on bills passed by the Legislature the governor has signed bills that create the state’s first groundwater regulations, provide more tax credits for the film industry, close insurance gaps in the rideshare industry, and prevent homeowners associations from penalizing residents for replacing lawns with low-water plants and imposing fines on residents who reduce or stop watering landscaping after the governor has declared a statewide emergency due to drought (which the governor did on in January). The governor hinted recently that he would authorize the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic shopping bags, but he has yet to sign the bill that would do that - SB 270 (Padilla). We’ll keep everyone posted as the deadline approaches.