AUSTIN – Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation lauded the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling that city ordinances that ban plastic bags violate state law.
In their ruling, justices of the Court said they were bound by law.
“Both sides of the debate and the many amici curiae who have weighed in assert public-policy arguments raising economic, environmental, and uniformity concerns,” they said. “But those arguments are not ours to resolve. ‘The wisdom or expediency of the law is the Legislature’s prerogative, not ours.’ We must take statutes as they are written, and the one before us is written quite clearly. Its limitation on local control encompasses the ordinance.”
“Today’s Texas Supreme Court decision on municipal plastic bag bans reaffirms the fact that home-rule cities are not above the law. Much like everyone else, city officials must observe and respect laws put in place by the state legislature,” said Think Local Liberty’s James Quintero.
“This case had little to do with the merits of plastic bag bans, and everything to do with reining in lawless city governments. All too often, city governments use the rhetoric of ‘local control’ as permission to do whatever they want, by whatever means they want. But that has never been the case in Texas. All government, even local government, is bound by the law. The Court’s decision today reaffirms the ancient principle that City’s may not pursue their policy goals by any means necessary. State law and the State Constitution still control in Texas,” said the Center for the American Future’s Rob Henneke.
Last year, TPPF filed an amicus brief in Laredo Merchants Association v. City of Laredo, Texas, the case that the Texas Supreme Court decided today. The brief argued that the City of Laredo’s plastic bag ban conflicts with Texas state law, which preempts ordinances that prohibit the use or sale of a container or package for solid waste management purposes. In August 2016, the Fourth Court of Appeals ruled against the plastic bag ban, finding that the City’s ordinance is preempted by state law and “unenforceable as a matter of law.”
“As local governments are creatures of the state, local control does not give cities authority to regulate in areas where the Texas Legislature has expressly and definitively removed city authority,” said Bryan Mathew, a policy analyst with the Center for Local Governance at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “Texas state law clearly states that cities cannot prohibit retailers from providing customers with single-use plastic bags. The Texas Supreme Court ought to strike down Laredo’s impermissible ordinance and uphold the rule of law.”
The ruling in its entirety can be found here:
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The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit free-market research institute based in Austin that aims to foster human flourishing by protecting and promoting liberty, opportunity, and personal responsibility.