Texas Supreme Court Set to Decide Whether Cities Can Ban Plastic Bags

We could get a ruling as early as this morning from the Texas Supreme Court on a case that involves city-wide bans on those throwaway plastic grocery bags, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

Bennett Sandlin, who heads the Texas Municipal League, says this is the textbook case on the importance of local control.  

He tells 1200 WOAI news, bag bans make sense in some cities while, in others, they're insignificant.

"A good example is Fort Stockton," he explains.  "The single use plastic bags were getting in cattle feeders and choking the cattle."

He also points to South Padre Island, which banned single-use bags over concerns about the impact to the marine ecology.

The case arises from a lawsuit brought by a group of Laredo business owners, who oppose that city's bag ban. They argue that the plan is forbidden by state law, pointing to a section of the Texas Health and Safety Code that reads 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 4th Court of Appeals, which is based in San Antonio, agreeing in a 2-1 ruling that focused on the legal definition of a container or package.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued in support of that lower court’s ruling.

“The Legislature did not mince words when it removed the authority of Texas cities to restrict or prohibit plastic checkout bags,” he said in a 2016 statement.

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