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DMN: Attorney General should let Texas cities decide how to deal with plastic bags

March 11, 2014

A plastic bag clings to a tree on Lamar Street downtown (Rudolph Bush)


This morning, the Texas Tribune reported that Attorney General Greg Abbott may weigh in on the issue of plastic bag bans.


On Sunday, we called for Dallas to join other Texas cities in banning the bags that clog creeks and create litter problems across the city.


Abbott got a request from Rep. Dan Flynn of Canton seeking an opinion on whether bag bans comply with state law, the Tribune reports.


Little surprise that Flynn’s request comes at the behest of the Texas Retailers Association.


The law that Flynn references is the Texas Health and Safety Code. If you read the section of the code he references, it’s fairly clear that cities can’t restrict containers or packages “for solid waste management purposes.”


The law then goes on to define solid waste as, well, garbage.


I’m not sure what you buy at the grocery store, but I doubt it’s garbage.


Abbott may well issue an opinion here that would make it more difficult for cities to enact or keep the bans they have in place.


That would be a mistake. Cities should have the power to regulate how they want to handle the litter that they must pay to deal with. This isn’t just an issue about whether bags are good, bad or otherwise.


It’s a question of whether cities should have local control versus being dictated to by Austin. 


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