Proposed bill could mean California-wide ban on plastic bags

LOS ANGELES - Key California legislators have reached an agreement that could lead to a statewide ban on carry-out plastic bags at supermarkets, liquor stores and pharmacies by 2016.

Democratic state Sen. Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles said Thursday the deal balances environmental concerns with the need to preserve jobs.

Los Angeles, Solana Beach and nearly 100 cities and counties in the state have enacted bans on single-use plastic bags.

Oceanside, Encinitas, San Diego and Chula Vista have bans under consideration.

If approved, the compromise bill would extend a similar prohibition across the state.

The local laws would remain in effect.

A summary of the bill says supermarkets must stop using the bags by July 2015, and the ban would extend to smaller stores in 2016.

"We came together for a compromise that will allow businesses transition into making re-useable bags," said state Sen. Alex Padilla, the author of the new bill.

The proposal would use $2 million to help firms that produce plastic bags convert to manufacturing reusable bags.

"I'm in favor; I've never like plastic bags," said Steve Fesser just outside of the Ralphs store downtown.

However, not all agree.  

"We have customers who can't afford a car, much less another tax," said Mark Arabo, who represents neighborhood grocers.  

Under the bill, if you did not have a re-useable bag and wanted a paper one it would cost 10 cents per bag.

The following are statements in response to the proposed bill:

Bishop George McKinney, pastor of St. Stephens Cathedral, Church of God in San Diego:

"Sadly, the state's proposal is just as bad as the one being pushed by Councilmember [Sherri] Lightner. Both impose a hefty tax on working families and seniors who are barely getting by, and both allow the big grocery chains to pocket the tens of millions of dollars that will come from this tax. At the very least, instead of going to big grocers, this money should be spent for local programs in San Diego, like community cleanups. It's just not fair."

Mark Daniels, Chairman of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, a trade association representing the American plastic bag manufacturing and recycling industry:

"The plastic bag manufacturing industry is in no way supportive of this so-called 'deal' between Senators Padilla and de Leon that's being reported, and we remain strongly opposed to this or any bill that seeks to ban the 100% recyclable product our workers -- including 2,000 Californians -- make every day.

While we've seen no actual bill language, the legislation announced today appears no different than anything we've seen in the past -- it's yet another job-killing, big grocer cash grab masquerading as an environmental bill. Large grocery chains are pushing this bag ban and tax scam so they can keep the tax as a new revenue stream, all at the expense of their customers.

We are committed to working with legislators and stakeholders to find a workable solution that is environmentally responsible and protects jobs -- but this bill, as described, totally misses the mark."

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