In California, the new battleground for a statewide bill will take place on the November 2016 ballot when voters will decide whether to support a single-use plastic bag ban or strike it down.
Even though the California State Legislature and the Governor approved a bill into law in the 2014 session, the plastics industry launched a $3 million effort to strike down the state law through the ballot referendum process. On Tuesday, February 24, 2015, the California Secretary of State certified the referendum signatures gathered by the plastics industry to formally put the issue on the ballot in late 2016.
SB 270 would ban plastic check out bags at most food retailers while requiring a ten-cent fee on paper bags. After approval of SB 270 by the legislature, the plastic bag industry paid signature gatherers to put the law to a vote through the referendum process. There were many controversies with the signature gathering process, though, which culminated in a deceptive practices investigation against the plastic industry representatives by the California Attorney General due to widespread complaints of fraud by voters.
A November 2014 poll by University of Southern California Dornsife/LA Times demonstrated solid support for the statewide bag ban law with a 60 percent approval rating. There is even higher support for the law in communities that have already enacted a local ban.
Fortunately, Surfrider Foundation and our coalition partners throughout the state remain committed to ushering forth change on the local level while the state bill is left in limbo. Already, elected officials in San Diego, Oceanside, Sacramento and Santa Barbara County have announced support for new local legislation to prevent single-use plastic bag pollution. Surfrider's California Chapter network is commited to educating local communities about the issue of marine plastic pollution and the opportunities to advocate for change on the local level and on the 2016 ballot.
Stay tuned to @Surfrider for updates on this issue and plug in to your local Chapter for ways to get involved in your community!