Paxton: Banning Single-Use Plastic Bags is Illegal

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Paxton: Banning Single-Use Plastic Bags is Illegal

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sent a letter to Austin Mayor Steve Adler and the city council reminding them that it is no longer legal to enforce a city ordinance banning businesses from offering customers single-use plastic bags.  The ordinance, which has been in effect since 2013, was struck down when the Texas Supreme Court ruled that a similar ban in Laredo ran counter to the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act.

"The Texas Supreme Court declared that banning single-use plastic bags is illegal. Municipalities ignoring this law are unlawfully passing their duty to manage solid waste on to their residents and retailers in violation of settled Texas law,” Attorney General Paxton said. “A dislike of state law is no justification for a municipality to violate it."

However, the ruling does not prevent private business owners from imposing their own ban on the bags.  Austin Nimocks, who is a special counsel for the AG's office, says they can still do as they choose as long as it is not part of a city mandate.

"What private businesses choose to do is not exactly in the purview of this," said Nimocks, "so we may see different businesses react differently to the change in law."

Austin is among 11 cities who received a letter from Paxton's office, the others including Sunset Valley, Port Aransas, Laguna Vista, Fort Stockton, Eagle Pass, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, Kermit, Freer and South Padre Island.

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