20 State Lawmakers Weigh In On Plastic Bag Fight

On Tuesday, almost two-dozen Members of the Texas Legislature filed an amicus brief in support of the Laredo Merchants Association’s legal challenge to the City of Laredo’s plastic bag ban. A number of Texas cities either have or are considering similar restrictions.

The brief—filed by State Senators Konni Burton, Bob Hall, and Don Huffines, and State Representatives Dustin Burrows, Wayne Faircloth, Dan Flynn, Bryan Hughes, Mark Keough, Matt Krause, Jodie Laubenberg, Jeff Leach, Matt Rinaldi, Matt Shaheen, Ron Simmons, David Simpson, Stuart Spitzer, Drew Springer, Jonathan Stickland, Tony Tinderholt, and Molly White—puts forward several compelling arguments, including that:  

  • Current state law is “unmistakably clear in its prohibition of local ordinances such as Laredo’s bag ban.”
  • The legislative intent of existing state statute “is to prohibit local ordinances like Laredo’s bag ban.”
  • Efforts in the 83rd and 84th sessions to strengthen existing preemption laws “do not indicate that such bans are currently permitted by state law.”

Legislators’ contention that plastic bag bans are preempted by state law are very much in line with the previous findings of then-Attorney General Greg Abbott who, in 2014, suggested that:

“A court would likely conclude that a city ordinance prohibiting or restricting single-use plastic bags is prohibited by subsection 361.0961(a)(1) of the Health and Safety Code if the city adopted the ordinance for solid waste management purposes.”

“A court would likely conclude that section 361.0961(a)(3) prohibits a city from adopting an ordinance that assesses a fee on the sale or use of a single-use plastic bag.”

In addition, the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s filed its own Amicus Brief in April of this year arguing that “the City is subject to the rule of law and cannot infringe upon what the Legislature has expressly and definitively removed from the City’s authority.”