Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway will tell you that that Dallas’ newly enacted bag ordinance, which requires businesses charge customers a nickel for plastic and paper single-use bags, is a success. An often confusing, occasionally stumbling success. But a success nonetheless. That’s what he told Mid-Missouri Public Radio just yesterday: “The use of the bags coming out of the store has reduced greatly. The litter on the streets has reduced greatly, and folks are jumping onboard.”
Irving attorney Matt Rinaldi is most definitely not. The Texas House of Representatives newcomer,whose district includes Irving and Carrollton and Farmers Branch, has filed a bill meant to toss Dallas’ bag ordinance; Austin’s too. In fact, Rinaldi wants to outlaw any Texas city from enacting a bag ban or fee-based ordinance. As far as he’s concerned, business have a right to give their customers bags.
It says so right there in all capital letters in HB 1939, which Rinaldi filed Wednesday: “RIGHT OF BUSINESS TO PROVIDE BAG TO CUSTOMER.”
The proposed legislation would kill existing bans and fees previously enacted by cities and prevent other municipalities from doing the same: “An ordinance or regulation adopted by a municipality purporting to restrict or prohibit a business from, require a business to charge a customer for, or tax or impose penalties on a business for providing to a customer at the point of sale a bag or other container made from any material is invalid and has no effect.”
We’ve asked Rinaldi for further comment. For now, at least, his office directs our attention to the rep’s Facebook page, to which he posted the following statement.
Gov. Abbott warned that “Texas is being Californianized and you may not even be noticing it. It’s being done at the city level with bag bans, fracking bans, tree-cutting bans. We’re forming a patchwork quilt of bans and rules and regulations that is eroding the Texas model.” I agree. Today, I filed HB 1939 to repeal bag bans and surcharges like those enacted by Dallas and Austin, which erode consumer choice and the rights of business-owners.
The Texas Campaign for the Environment is not amused. Its executive director, Robin Schneider, calls the proposed legislation a “trampling of local sovereignty” in a release that just landed in the in-box. Caraway’s taking it in stride.
“He has the right to do what he wants to do,” Caraway says. “But for an Irving rep to file something that relates to a Dallas concern is somewhat disturbing. It only shows he is more in the corporate mindset than for cleaner cities and better quality of life. He can find better things to do in Irving than sticking his nose into Dallas. Is that all he has to do? Is that his biggest concern? A plastic bag? Aren’t there greater issues that concern the constituents of Irving?”