Annoying municipal regulations on plastic shopping bags are under fire again, as the Office of the Attorney General filed suit over one such fee on shopping bags.
Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against the City of Brownsville earlier today over a $1 per bag “environmental fee” imposed on shoppers – claiming the fee constitutes an illegal sales tax.
The Texas Tax Code allows the creation, reduction, increase, and repeal of special regional sales taxes – upon ratification by election. Brownsville’s bag fee imposed on residents was not subject to such an election, and therefore, the Attorney General argues, is in violation of the Texas Tax Code and constitutes an illegal sales tax.
Additionally, according to section 361.0961(a)(3) of the Texas Health & Safety Code, “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 and package.”
Since its imposition, the “environmental fee” has taxed citizens around $3.8 million, according to the Brownsville Herald.
“No local government has the authority to violate Texas law just because it feels like it,” Paxton said. “Clearly, Brownsville is raising taxes on its citizens through this unlawful bag fee. The rule of law must be upheld, and state law is clear – bags may not be taxed.”
This is just the latest example of a municipality overstepping its authority in a bag-regulating money grab. Similar bans exist in several major cities, such as Austin and Laredo. Hopefully, Paxton’s lawsuit will set a new precedent that will remove the aggravating burden that these overreaching ordinances impose on residents.
The full text of the lawsuit can be read here.