AUSTIN – On Friday, August 29th, Attorney General Greg Abbott issued an opinion finding that municipalities imposing plastic bag bans and fees may be in violation of state law. Representative Dan Flynn had requested the ruling in March, in the wake of multiple Texas cities adopting such bans in recent years. The opinion concluded that “a court would likely conclude that a city ordinance prohibiting or restricting single-use plastic bags is prohibited” under the Health and Safety Code, as well as likely forbidding a city from “adopting an ordinance that assesses a fee on the sale or use of a single-use plastic bag.”

Jess Fields, Senior Policy Analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Local Governance, praised the ruling:

“The Attorney General has done right by all Texans in preserving their basic freedom to make choices for themselves. These bans are the perfect example of unnecessary nanny-state regulations that go too far in restricting the voluntary economic activity of Texas’ small businesses and consumers, resulting in increased costs for everyone.”
The Center for Local Governance at the Texas Public Policy Foundation has previously written against plastic-bag ban policies in the San Antonio Express-News and the Laredo Morning Times, as the policy began to spread throughout some of the state’s large cities. Plastic-bag bans became a national fad after San Francisco passed one in 2007.
“Not only are these regulations harmful to liberty, but studies have shown that disposable plastic bags are safer for consumers than reusable bags, which can harbor harmful bacteria,” Fields said. “Elected officials should carefully consider the unintended consequences of discretionary laws before rushing to enact them.”

Jess Fields is a Senior Policy Analyst for the Center for Local Governance with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin. 
The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin.
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