Residents of one Texas city may soon see free plastic bags back in their store checkout lanes after a municipal ordinance banning them was thrown out in court.
On Tuesday, the Fourth Court of Appeals rendered a summary judgment in favor of the Laredo Merchants Association. The organization filed suit against the border city over its plastic bag ordinance in March 2015.
The appeals court deemed the ordinance unenforceable as a matter of law, finding the ordinance was preempted by the Solid Waste Disposal Act—an argument supported by Gov. Abbott during his time as Texas Attorney General.
Despite clear direction from the state’s chief law enforcement officer that the ordinances violate state law, many cities such as Dallas, Austin, and Laredo have passed ordinances banning plastic bags. To make things clearer for them, State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) filed legislation to make the state’s opposition to bag bans (and resulting surcharges) even more clear.
Though Rinaldi and other conservatives were thwarted by the coalition government in the Texas House, he led a group of twenty legislators in filing an amicus curiae brief supporting the Laredo Merchants Association.
After the decision was rendered, Rinaldi said the ruling represented a major win for Texans.
“The era of Texas municipal bag bans is likely coming to an end,” said Rinaldi. “The Fourth District Court of Appeals today ruled that Laredo’s bag ban ordinance is illegal under state law. The ruling effectively adopted the arguments of an amicus brief filed in the case by me and 19 of my House and Senate colleagues challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance. While the decision specifically binds Laredo, it will undoubtedly be used as authority to overturn municipal bag bans across Texas. I am thrilled to be a part of ending these illegal regulations and will continue to fight local government overreach that infringes on the liberty of Texans.”
With clear judicial precedent that plastic bag regulations are contrary to the legislature’s authority, citizens have a green light to challenge and overturn the bans in other cities.