In recent years, a growing number of Texas cities have implemented fees and all-out bans on single-use plastic and paper shopping bags in an effort to reduce litter. However, some lawmakers – as well as the state’s top attorney – are battling the legality of it.
The small west Texas town of Kermit is among the list of bag-banners and, until last week, also levied a tax on the sale of paper bags.
On June 15, Kermit City Council members voted to repeal its 10-cent fee on paper bags. The decision came after receiving a letter from the Texas Attorney General’s Office notifying the city that they had 60 days to do away with the tax or face a lawsuit.
The plastic bag ban and fee were implemented by the City of Kermit in 2013 in an effort to encourage the use of reusable shopping bags and in turn curb littering, according to city officials.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, however, stated that a tax of this kind “unlawfully [passes] the burden of municipal solid waste management to residents and retailers.” In addition, the Texas Health and Safety Code notes that, “a local government or other political subdivision may not adopt an ordinance, rule, or regulation to assess a fee or deposit on the sale or use of a container or package.”
While Kermit’s plastic bag ban is still in place, it is the last city in Texas to repeal its unlawful bag fee.
In a press release following the city council meeting, Paxton commended council members for complying with state law and encouraged those who think they are the victim of unlawful bag taxes to notify his office at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.