California's plastic-bag ban put on hold by ballot referendum

Opponents of a ban on single-use plastic bags in grocery stores have qualified a referendum on the law, delaying its July 1 effective date until voters act on the measure in November 2016, the California secretary of state’s office said last Tuesday.

The trade group American Progressive Bag Alliance submitted more than 800,000 signatures on petitions for the referendum, and a random sample count by elections officials projected that they include at least 110% of the 504,760 signatures needed to put the measure on the ballot.

“California voters will now have the chance to vote down a terrible law that, if implemented, would kill 2,000 local manufacturing jobs and funnel obscene profits to big grocers without any money going to a public purpose or environmental initiative, said Lee Califf, executive director of the alliance.

Supporters of the bag ban said they are confident California voters will uphold the ban because the plastic bags are a costly burden to the environment, littering rivers, beaches and parks and posing threats to wildlife.

“It’s not surprising that after spending more than $3.2 million, 98 percent of which is from out of state, the plastic bag industry has bought its way onto the California ballot to protect its profits,” Mark Murray, a spokesman for the campaign group Californians vs. Big Plastic, said in a statement.

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