Though the Texas Supreme Court trashed municipal bans on the use of plastic shopping bags, one Democrat state legislator is attempting to bring them back.

On Wednesday, Democrat State Rep. Gina Hinojosa of Austin filed House Bill 514, which seeks to overturn the court’s ruling from this past summer which effectively voided bag bans across the state. The case was brought in a suit by the Laredo Merchants Association.

In the opinion, written by Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, the court found the ordinance to be in direct contradiction with state law, stating local governments may not “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.”

The ruling was a victory for citizens who have found themselves subject to the out-of-control tyranny of municipal regulations. In recent years, these regulations, under the guise of “local control,” have struck down ordinances in several cities, including Austin, Eagle Pass, and Brownsville. Once again, retailers could provide their goods to consumers in plastic bags without fear of fines or prosecution.

Hinojosa’s bill seeks to negate the court’s ruling by taking the statute cited by the court, which prohibits local regulation of containers and packages, and inserting language that “clarifies” the term: “Does not include a single-use bag provided by a retail business to a customer at the point of sale for the purpose of transporting purchases.”

Though the practice of banning plastic bags is currently disallowed, such language would effectively undo the ruling of the court and allow cities — such as Austin — to once again enforce the onerous law.

Like many leftist, nanny-state prohibitions, plastic bag bans erode the economic freedom of consumers in Texas — and all on the basis of junk science. A Danish study earlier this year found that the traditional, single-use plastic shopping bag has the lowest environmental impact of any reusable alternative. A shopper would have to reuse a recycled plastic bag, a common alternative, 84 times before offsetting the environmental impact traditional plastic bags.

As for the organic cotton bags often toted by liberal, “environmentally-conscious” Austinites? The same study found it would take 20,000 uses, or 19 years, before breaking even with the plastic bags they seek to outlaw.

In 2015, prior to the court’s ruling, State Sen. Bob Hall (R–Edgewood) carried legislation to put an end to the bans. Legislation to codify the court’s ruling into law has not yet been filed in either chamber of the Texas Legislature.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens


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