Say Goodbye to the Plastic Bag Ban

Texas Supreme Court rules city ordinances can't override state law

Say Goodbye to the Plastic Bag Ban
via Thinkstock

Now what are we going to do about all these tote bags we have been gifted?

The Texas Supreme Court struck down the city of Laredo’s ban on plastic bags today, in a decision that will likely affect Austin’s own (popular and effective) ordinance, after five-plus years in operation. Justices ruled unanimously that a state law (1993’s Solid Waste Disposal Act) prohibiting municipalities from restricting the use of plastic bags overrode local ordinances that forbid the retail provision of single-use bags at the point of sale, following a lawsuit filed by the Laredo Merchants Association against that city. While Friday’s ruling doesn’t cite Austin specifically, its order is broad enough to implicate Austin’s (and those of other cities throughout Texas) as being quite endangered moving forward.

Further evidence of the local ordinance’s shaky footing emerged quickly after the high court’s ruling, when Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton emerged from his polluted cave to “commend” the court “for upholding the principle that no one is exempted from the rule of law.

“This ruling sends the unambiguous message to all local jurisdictions in Texas that they do not get to simply ignore laws they don’t agree with,” Paxton continued. “I hope that Laredo, Austin, and any other jurisdictions that have enacted illegal bag bans will take note and voluntarily bring their ordinances into compliance with state law. Should they decline to do so, I expect the ruling will be used to invalidate any other illegal bag bans statewide.”

Wonderful. The Texas Hammer strikes again. Following the ruling, Environment Texas Executive Director Luke Metzger noted that while the ruling should set precedent to do away with Austin’s ordinance, “major retailers, like HEB and Wal-Mart,” can “continue observing the ban,” and ask the Legislature to remove the preemption statute” – or at the very least encourage shoppers to continue toting their totes.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Bag Ban
What Future for Flying Plastic Bags?
What Future for Flying Plastic Bags?
Supreme Court ponders single-use bag bans

Michael King, Jan. 26, 2018

State Supremes Consider Bag Ban
State Supremes Consider Bag Ban
Laredo law banning single-use bags goes to court

Michael King, Jan. 12, 2018

More by Chase Hoffberger
A Resolution for Lawrence Parrish
A Resolution for Lawrence Parrish
Man shot by APD officers gets one charge dropped, pleas out on two others

July 18, 2018

Austin Will Vote on CodeNEXT Petition in November
Austin Will Vote on CodeNEXT Petition in November
Ruling forces quasi-referendum on land use rewrite

July 16, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

bag ban, Texas Supreme Court

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2018

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle