Is San Antonio on the path to plastic bag prohibition?

As reported last week by the San Antonio Express-News, environmentalists and area activists are pushing the newly elected administration to ban plastic bags, which would steer the city in the same direction as other highly regulated cities, like Austin. But while some San Antonians, including council members, have become infatuated with the idea of micromanaging consumers, this is bad policy that’s already had its day in court (and lost).

Last year, the city of Laredo’s bag ban ordinance was tossed by the Fourth Court of Appeals. The ruling in the case found that cities do not have the jurisdiction to regulate in this area. The Health and Safety Code specifically states that cities do not have the authority to prohibit the use or sale of a container or package for solid waste management purposes.

Curiously, the city of San Antonio is in the Fourth Court’s jurisdiction, so its flirtation with a bag ban is, at least on the surface, at odds with both existing state law and the Fourth Court’s recent decision.

While no ordinance has yet been proposed or adopted, this is a situation worth keeping an eye on given the importance of the rule of law and a growing perception that some in city government are bent on picking and choosing which laws to follow.