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State supreme court sacks plastic bag bans

June 22, 2018 - 9:52 am

AUSTIN (KJCE) -- Plastic bags could be returning to an Austin retail store near you.

Friday, the Texas Supreme Court unanimously ruled against a Laredo single-use bag ordinance, saying that city ordinances cannot conflict with state law. The state law in question is the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act, which prohibits cities from outright banning or taxing "containers" or "packages" as a way to reduce solid waste.

The court heard oral arguments in the case in January.

In addition to Laredo, the City of Austin and about a dozen other cities have enacted similar bans. The court's ruling is specific to the Laredo case, but opens the door to legal challenges for the remaining bans.

Austin's ban went into effect in 2013.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton applauded the ruling. "I commend the Texas Supreme Court for upholding the principle that no one is exempted from the rule of law. This ruling sends the unambiguous message to all local jurisdictions in Texas that they do not get to simply ignore laws they don’t agree with," Paxton said. "Municipalities violate the law when they unlawfully pass the burden of solid waste management to citizens and retailers through illegal bag bans. I hope that Laredo, Austin, and any other jurisdictions that have enacted illegal bag bans will take note and voluntarily bring their ordinances into compliance with state law. Should they decline to do so, I expect the ruling will be used to invalidate any other illegal bag bans statewide."

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