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Senate passes plastic bag ban; bill heads to governor

Posted: August 30, 2014 10:29 p.m.
Updated: August 30, 2014 10:29 p.m.
State Sen Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, left, and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, hug each other after the end of the two-year legislative session in the early hours on Saturday in Sacramento.  State Sen Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, left, and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, hug each other after the end of the two-year legislative session in the early hours on Saturday in Sacramento. 
State Sen Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, left, and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, hug each other after the end of the two-year legislative session in the early hours on Saturday in Sacramento. 
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California lawmakers have approved a measure that would make the state the first to impose a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.

SB270 cleared the Senate on a 22-15 vote Friday and sent to Gov. Jerry Brown. It was approved by the Assembly a day earlier.

Senators who had previously opposed the bill, including incoming Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, this time supported the measure after protections were added for plastic bag manufacturers.

The bill by Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles would prohibit single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and large pharmacies in 2015 and at convenience stores in 2016.

It includes $2 million in loans to help manufacturers shift to producing reusable bags and lets grocers charge 10 cents each for paper and reusable bags.

The bill had sparked one of the most contentious debates in the last weeks of the legislative session, with aggressive lobbying by environmentalists and bag manufacturers.

For years, a statewide plastic bag ban has been an elusive goal for lawmakers trying to reduce the buildup of plastic waste in oceans and waterways that costs millions of dollars to cleanup. About 100 local jurisdictions in California already have adopted similar bans, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Across the state, 124 counties and cities, including the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County, have ordinances banning single-use plastic bags.

The city of Santa Clarita does not. But if SB270 passes is signed by Gov. Brown, the law would apply across the state.

People who were shopping at Santa Clarita stores Saturday had mixed opinions about the bag ban proposal.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Richard Baily, who was shopping at the Ralphs on Orchard Village Road in Newhall. “I don’t go to Albertsons for that reason.”

Ralphs shopper Diana Brannon, however, said people will just have to get used to not getting plastic bags at the checkout.

“We’re just going to have to bring our own bags,” Brannon said.

Agnya Solanki, who manages a 7-Eleven store on Valencia Boulevard in Santa Clarita, said he expects his customers will be upset at first.

“I think people are going to get angry...” Solanki said. “They’re going to get frustrated a bit, but they don’t have a choice. I think it’s a good change.”

Henry Urick, who lives in an unincorporated area in Castaic, said he’s used to the bag ban, which the county implemented this year.

“I’m accustomed to this law. It won’t have much of an effect on me. In the beginning I was upset, but now I believe it’s a pretty good law, because there’s so much waste going into our landfills and oceans.”

“We live in a throw-away society,” said Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward. “What this bill does is to make an effort to do one little thing: Get people to use reusable bags.”

Opposition to the bill has focused on the 10-cent fee, which legislators of both parties have called unfair to consumers.

“We’re adding significantly to their costs,” said Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills. “This is a tax on our consumers.”

The American Forest & Paper Association, representing paper bag makers, says SB270 unfairly treats their commonly recycled products like plastic, while holding reusable plastic bags to a lower standard for recyclable content.

An influential grocer’s union, which had withdrawn its support earlier, now backs the bill.

After passing a flurry of bills, state lawmakers adjourned Saturday morning. Among the bills approved and now headed to the governor’s desk are:

— SB 1168, SB 1319 and AB 1739, a package of bills that would require some local governments to develop groundwater-management plans and allow the state to intervene if necessary.

— AB 1014 by Democratic Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner of Berkeley, which would make California the first state to let family members and law enforcement officers petition a judge for a temporary restraining order to prevent someone from possessing a firearm when they appear to pose a threat.

— SB 831 by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, which would ban elected officials from requesting payments on their behalf to nonprofits run by family members. It also places limits on spending campaign cash for personal purposes, such as on vacations and utility bills.

— SB 1442, pushed by Democratic Senate leaders, which increases detailed campaign spending reporting from twice a year to quarterly. Other bills approved in the final days of the session would place new restrictions on gift-giving to lawmakers and prohibit lobbyists from hosting fundraisers for elected officials.

— SB 967 by Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, requires schools investigating assault cases to use an “affirmative consent standard,” meaning both parties gave unambiguous, clear approval for sexual activity. It’s meant as a change that will provide consistency across campuses and challenge the notion that victims must have resisted assault to have valid complaints.

— AB 1522 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, which would require most employers to provide temporary and part-time workers with up to three paid sick days a year.

The governor has until the end of September to sign or veto the legislation.

Robert Spallone and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

 

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