On July 2nd Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sends out a message to cities with plastic bag ordinances. In a letter, Paxton says bag bans are unenforceable. This means a city cannot punish businesses with a fine or warning for distributing a plastic bag upon checkout.
Now cities across the state, including Brownsville and South Padre Island are reviewing their options.
So, can a Brownsville business distribute single use plastic bags upon checkout?
The short answer is yes, but not everyone may be on board.
On June 22nd the Texas Supreme Court made a ruling on a Laredo plastic bag ordinance. The court struck down the city ordinance. This prompted Paxton to reach out to cities with similar plastic bag legislation.
The Brownsville ordinance has not disappeared. Distributing a plastic bag now would be against the city’s code.
Brownsville’s Interim City Manager Michael Lopez says, “As with any ordinance that has to be amended or repealed. It does have to go for public hearing in front of the commission.”
The ordinance is currently serves more like a suggestion than an enforceable law at this time.
There are no fines or warnings for distributing plastic bags as of the writing of this report in the city.
“We will not go out there to enforce it completely because we are still in discussion about the ability to enforce it or not.” says Lopez.
The city will discuss the future of this ordinance on the next city commission meeting on July 17.
Environmental support groups are upset by this decision statewide. Texas Campaign for the Environment is encouraging businesses to not give out plastic bags.
Representative Andrew Dobbs tells News Center 23, “They don’t have to return these bags. It’s up to them. people have already gotten used to it. it’s already good to the environment in these places.”
Brownsville was the first city in Texas to have a bag ordinance in 2010. The city tells us it’s the ban has had a positive impact in the community.
Learn more about the state supreme court ruling here:
KVEO Facebook Poll: https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10156488899019494&id=95622364493
Opinion of the Texas Supreme Court: http://www.txcourts.gov/media/1441865/160748.pdf
Texas Supreme Court Video: http://www.texasbarcle.com/CLE/SCPlayer.asp?sCaseNo=16-0748