The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

May 30, 2013
Many interesting reasons why plastic bag ban failed

A bill to ban single-use plastic bags in California fell three votes short in the state Senate today, and it's interesting to note how it got hit from all sides.

As The Bee's Capitol bureau reports, some Democrats voted against Senate Bill 405 because they said it would cost jobs in bag factories. Others said the Legislature shouldn't be trying to legislate behavior by trying to force shoppers to go for reusable bags.

Sen. Leland Yee, a San Francisco Democrat, also voted no. That's kind of curious because San Francisco was a pioneer among local governments banning plastic bags. He didn't speak on the floor to explain his vote.

I'm sure it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he is running for secretary of state -- and so is the author of SB 405, Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles.

The conspiracy-minded might also take note that Yee's former chief of staff, Adam Keigwin, went to work recently, though not as a registered lobbyist, for Mercury Public Affairs, which represents the plastic bag industry.

Four Democrats did not vote, which in this instance (an 18-17 tally when 21 votes were needed) was like voting no and thus almost certainly killing the bill for the year. They included Sen. Lois Wolk of Davis, who, as today's Bee editorial in support of SB 405 noted, supports a tax on both plastic and paper shopping bags instead.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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