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Proposition 67 – Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags

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Official Title:

Referendum to Overturn Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags

Special Note:   

Two initiatives deal with the question of plastic bag use in California.

Proposition 67 is a referendum that asks voters if they wish to uphold or overturn the law passed by the Legislature that outlaws plastic bags.  A "yes" vote on Proposition 67 means the statewide ban on plastic bags will go into effect.  A "no" vote on Proposition 67 means the statewide ban on plastic bags will not become law. 

If Proposition 67 fails, the outcome of Proposition 65 will be moot and will have no effect (since the entire statewide law will have been repealed).  However, if Proposition 67 passes and the state law is upheld, the outcome of Proposition 65 will determine whether the revenue stream generated by bag fees should remain with the retailers or be redirected for specified environmental purposes.

Overview:                

In recent years, many local governments in California have passed ordinances restricting or prohibiting single-use carry-out plastic bags, generally in response to environmental concerns.  As of 2015, 115 cities and counties in California had passed such ordinances.  These local ordinances usually ban such bags at grocery stores and other establishments, and require the retailer to charge at least 10 cents for the sale of paper or reusable bags.  Under most of these ordinances, the retailer retains the proceeds for the charges for such bags.

In 2014, the California Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, a statewide law (SB 270) which adopted a similar ban on single-use plastic bags.  Like the local ordinances, the state law also requires retailers to charge at least 10 cents for any paper or reusable bag that it provides to consumers at checkout and creates standards for reusable bags (such as size and durability requirements). The law allows the retailers to retain the revenue from the sale of these bags.

However, a statewide referendum was qualified for the November 2016 ballot, requiring the state law to be voted on for approval or rejection by the voters. 

If Proposition 67 passes, the law will be upheld.  If Proposition 67 does not pass, the law will be rejected.  The statewide law was not implemented, pending the outcome of the referendum.

Fiscal Impact:

Unknown

CCC Position:

No position

Support:

Supporters of Proposition 67 include the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the California Ocean Protection Council, and the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. 

Supporters argue that single-use plastic shopping bags create some of the most visible litter that blows into our parks, trees, and neighborhoods and washes into our rivers, lakes, and oceans.  Proposition 67 will help keep communities beautiful and will save state and local communities tens of millions of dollars in litter clean-up costs.  Supporters note that many local communities are already phasing out plastic bags, and that some communities have seen a nearly 90% reduction in single-use bags, as well as stong support from consumers.     

Opposition:

Opponents to Proposition 67 include the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, the California Taxpayer Protection Committee, and California Senior Advocates League.

Opponents contend that Proposition 67 is a $300 million per year hidden tax increase on California consumers who will be forced to pay a minimum of ten cents for every paper and thick plastic grocery bag they are given at the checkout.  Rather than using the tax revenue to protect the environment, opponents state that grocery stores will grow $300 million richer as a result of a deal put together by special interest lobbyists. 

Reflections on Church Teaching:

"The natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone.  If we make something our own, it is only to administer it for the good of all. If we do not, we burden our consciences with the weight of having denied the existence of others."  Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato Si : On Care for our Common Home (May 2015).

"Account must also be taken of the pollution produced by residue, including dangerous waste present in different areas.  Each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources. The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth…These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish."   Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato Si : On Care for our Common Home (May 2015).

"An ordered love for creation, therefore, is ecological without being ecocentric. We can and must care for the earth without mistaking it for the ultimate object of our devotion. A Christian love of the natural world, as St. Francis showed us, can restrain grasping and wanton human behavior and help mightily to preserve and nurture all that God has made. We believe that faith in a good and loving God is a compelling source of passionate and enduring care for all creation."  Renewing the Earth: An Invitation to Reflection and Action on Environment in Light of Catholic Social TeachingA Pastoral Statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ( November 14, 1991).

Learn more about Care for Creation - http://www.cacatholic.org/care-for-creation