­­Dallas is commonly referred to as a transplant city, with many Americans from across the country relocating here for promising career opportunities.  Now it appears that nanny-state regulations, and not merely people, are also finding solid footing in the metroplex.

In a hotly contested 8-6 vote, the Dallas City Council approved an environmental fee for the use of paper and plastic bags, settling a yearlong debate at City Hall.  Interestingly, a News 8 online poll showed only 38% of respondents supported a partial ban or related fee, while 61% opposed a partial ban.

The previously proposed “bag-ban” was rejected.  Retailers will, instead, be forced to impose a five cent fee for each bag given to consumers, with the City of Dallas taking 90% of revenue generated.

Beginning in 2015, retailers will need to adopt systems to track bag usage, and report usage to the government.

City officials supporting the ordinance claim the new measure will “reduce pollution” in the city.  It begs the question, how likely will a five cent fee deter usage of disposable bags?  Furthermore, isn’t pollution in the city more about citizens littering in general, and less about what type of litter they throw out the car window?

Critics claim the ordinance places burdensome compliance costs on consumers and businesses, reducing already razor thin retailer margins.  They cite compelling evidence that the ordinance will not reduce pollution, littering, or “protect” the environment.

To enforce the new ordinance, $250,000 in P.R. will be set aside to promote propaganda supporting the measure, while estimates predict up to twelve new bureaucrats could be hired to manage enforcement of the program.  In other words, every time Dallas residents spend money at retailers, they’ll be paying the government to promote public messaging that reinforces the claim that levying the fee is “saving the environment”.

We’ve previously discussed the alleged merits of such a policy and found them to be, not only dubious at best, but carry potentially harmful, unintended consequences.

Hopefully, well-intentioned policy blunders like this will inspire more liberty-loving residents to engage their local officials.

Only time will tell.

Ross Kecseg

Ross Kecseg was the president of Texas Scorecard. He passed away in 2020. A native North Texan, he was raised in Denton County. Ross studied Economics at Arizona State University with an emphasis on Public Policy and U.S. Constitutional history. Ross was an avid golfer, automotive enthusiast, and movie/music junkie. He was a loving husband and father.

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