An Update on Austin’s Plastic Bag Ban

Reusable Bags
Remember when Austin had a plastic bag ban? Remember when it got overturned by the Texas Supreme Court?Today, we have a little update for you. State Representative Gina Hinojosa (who represents part of Austin in the state Legislature) just filed a bill that would allow Austin to reinstate its bag ban. 

A little background. Austin isn’t the only city in Texas that used to have a plastic bag ban. About a dozen others had passed them as well, including Laredo, Sunset Valley, Port Aransas, Fort Stockton, and South Padre Island. In 2015, the Laredo Merchants Association sued, saying that Laredo’s plastic bag ban was in violation of state law.

That case made it all the way to the Texas State Supreme Court, which issued a ruling at the end of June. The judges unanimously found that Laredo’s ban violates a state law, which says that local governments cannot,“prohibit or restrict, for solid waste management purposes, the sale or use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law.”

After the Supreme Court Ruling, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a letter to all of the Texas cities with bag bans saying that they were no longer legal or enforceable.

So now, Representative Hinojosa is essentially trying to change that state law. But just because the bill has been filed doesn’t mean that anything will change just yet. The next legislative session begins in January and Hinojosa’s bill will have to pass through both houses of the Legislature (and avoid being vetoed by the governor) before it can actually become law.

The local environmental organization, Texas Campaign For The Environment, has already expressed its support for this bill and will likely be advocating for it once the legislative session gets rolling. If you’d like to get more involved with the efforts of Texas Campaign for the Environment, you can follow them on Facebook or sign up for their newsletter. 

This post was originally written by Amy Stansbury for the Austin EcoNetwork