Double Take on the Props – Props 65 & 67 Plastic Bags

141834-fullFor the cynical voter, these two ballot measures will make you want to pull your hair out. They both relate to single-use plastic bag bans, and are sponsored by a special interest group: the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA). Since they are sponsored by a pro-plastic bag organization, one would assume that these two initiatives would relate to repealing the single-use bag ban. Wrong – at least on face value.

In 2014, you may recall, Governor Brown signed into law SB270 – a statewide single-use plastic bag ban. Prop 67, by its very existence, put the law on hold until voters decide at the polls. So, strangely and incredibly, while a YES vote on Prop 67 upholds the legislation signed into law by Governor Brown, it was petitioned in order to delay the inevitable – or possibly repeal the law if Prop 67 is defeated. It makes one wonder if APBA paid for NO on 67 ads, which would bring this entire legal homograph full-circle.

Prop 65 seeks to divert the revenue generated by the 10¢ per bag charge at the register in grocery stores and other retailers to a new state fund to support certain environmental programs. Again, while this looks good on the surface, you should dig deeper before deciding. From the LA Times: “The California Grocers Assn. estimates that stores pay an average of 10 cents per paper bag. It seems reasonable for stores to recoup their cost when forced to collect a fee. The law also sets guidelines for how the money is used by grocers: to offset the cost of complying with the law and promoting the use of reusable grocery bags.”

So, SB270 already requires grocers to divert any profits toward promoting the use of reusable grocery bags.

Finally, for the most cynical of cynics, here is the cherry on top: There is a clause written into Prop 65, “In the event that this measure receives a greater number of affirmative votes, the provisions of this measure shall prevail in their entirety, and the provisions of the other measure or measures shall be null and void.” This could be interpreted by the courts to mean that if Prop 65 receives more YES votes than Prop 67, regardless whether or not Prop 67 passes, that Prop 67 would in fact become “null and void”.

Huh? Exactly.

A YES vote on PROP 65 requires that for any charge on carryout bags, the resulting revenue be deposited in a new state fund to support certain environmental programs. Also, if PROP 65 receives more YES votes than PROP 67, PROP 67 could be considered “null and void”.

A NO vote on PROP 65 continues the current status on revenues earned by grocers on sales of carry-out bags.

A YES vote on PROP 67 upholds SB270, a state law signed in 2014 banning the distribution of free, single-use plastic bags in most stores.

A NO vote on PROP 67 repeals SB270.

Dan O’Brien

The Actors' Gang

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