The State Senate did not vote yesterday on AB 1998, the measure to ban single-use plastic bags and most paper bags from grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores. The bill, which received Assembly approval in June, must get through the Senate and return to the Assembly for a concurrence vote by the end of today. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he will sign the bill.
AB 1998 was authored by Assemblymember Julia Brownley, whose district includes Malibu. She said at a press conference on Sunday that the Senate vote would take place Monday morning. Brownley’s press secretary, Linda Rapattoni, said Monday night that she did not know why the vote did not take place. When asked if there was enough support in the Senate for passage, she said she did not know.
“People have been asking me about whether this will pass,” Linda Rapattoni said. “And I don’t know the answer.”
AB 1998 is supported by environmental groups, the California Grocers Association and unions. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) leads the opposition.
The Brownley press conference on Sunday took place at a Downtown Los Angeles Vons. She was joined by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Heal the Bay President Mark Gold.
“This is the strongest legislation yet to finally change consumer behavior and to ensure we in California will rid ourselves of a nasty plastic bag habit,” Brownley said.
AB 1998 proponents say plastic bags create an environmental threat, especially on the beaches. A statement on the ACC’s Web site says improving recycling programs is a better solution.
“This bill is bad for the economy and bad for the environment,” the ACC states. “It will eliminate several hundred California manufacturing jobs and dismantle existing plastic bag recycling programs.”
Brownley called this a “David and Goliath fight.” She said the ACC is working hard to defeat the bill because it knows this is a battle ground.
“They know if California goes, so will our neighboring coastal states … and then the country.”
Malibu banned single-use plastic bags two years ago. Yaroslavsky and Villaraigosa said Los Angeles County and City would move toward bans if AB 1998 does not pass. Officials from other cities, including Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach, have made the same declaration.