This bears watching.
The Texas Retailers Association is suing the city of Austin over a disposable bag ban set to take effect [today], saying the ban violates state law and should be tossed out.
The ban will prohibit all Austin retailers from offering thin, so-called single-use paper and plastic bags at checkout counters.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in Travis County district court, says the ban violates part of the state’s health and safety code that prevents local governments from banning or restricting “for solid waste management purposes, the sale or use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law.”
The retailers’ group said it “has not been able to discover a single state law authorizing the banning of bags in any manner, let alone the manner adopted by the city,” the lawsuit says.
The bag ban will also hurt businesses financially because many still have single-use bags in stock that they’ll have to store or dispose of, they are required to create signs alerting customers to the ban, and they might lose customers to nearby cities that don’t have bag bans, the lawsuit says.
The retailers association is not seeking an injunction — a short-term ruling — to try to stop the ban by Friday, president Ronnie Volkening said. For now, it is still encouraging its Austin members to comply with the ban, he said.
But the association wants a judge to decide whether the ban is valid and can be enforced in the long run, Volkening said.
Austin passed its ban one year ago, making it the most expansive ban on single-use bags in the state. If the plaintiffs win, it will be interesting to see what if any effect this has on other cities that have enacted various ordinances to reduce or eliminate plastic bag usage. Conversely, if Austin wins, it’ll be interesting to see if this emboldens other cities to pass their own ordinances.I’ll keep an eye on it.