Attorney General Ken Paxton today applauded the Texas Supreme Court after it upheld last year’s ruling by the Texas 4th Court of Appeals that the city of Laredo’s ban on single-use plastic bags is illegal. The ruling effectively invalidates unlawful bag bans across Texas.
In August 2016, the 4th Court of Appeals rendered a summary judgment in favor of the Laredo Merchants Association, which argued that the city of Laredo’s ban on single-use bags is illegal because it violates state law regulating solid waste disposal. Texas’ Health and Safety Code prohibits making a rule to “prohibit, restrict, for solid waste management purposes, the sale or use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law.”
“I commend the Texas Supreme Court for upholding the principle that no one is exempted from the rule of law. This ruling sends the unambiguous message to all local jurisdictions in Texas that they do not get to simply ignore laws they don’t agree with,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Municipalities violate the law when they unlawfully pass the burden of solid waste management to citizens and retailers through illegal bag bans. I hope that Laredo, Austin, and any other jurisdictions that have enacted illegal bag bans will take note and voluntarily bring their ordinances into compliance with state law. Should they decline to do so, I expect the ruling will be used to invalidate any other illegal bag bans statewide.”
When it passed the law in 1993, the Legislature wanted Texas cities to better manage their solid waste instead of eliminating that waste or just sending it to landfills. By enacting various bag bans and anti-consumer ordinances, cities ignore the law and shirk their responsibilities as waste managers.
Last year, the city of Kermit repealed its unlawful sales tax on single-use plastic bags rather than face a lawsuit from the attorney general’s office. And Attorney General Paxton dismissed a lawsuit against the city of Brownsville after it formally repealed its illegal sales tax on plastic bags.