Government Bytes


Los Angeles should bag the bag ban

by John Stephenson / /

Here we go again.


A little less than three months afterCalifornia’s State Senate rejected an ill-advised plastic bag ban and paper bag taxout of a concern about the effect such a policy would have on jobs whenunemployment is above 12%, Los Angeles County is set to pick up where thestate’s politicians in Sacramento left off. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Boardof Supervisors will consider a proposal that would ban plastic bags and requirea fee on paper bags countywide.


But since the State Senate rejected thepolicy, Californians approved Proposition 26,a measure that requires a 2/3 supermajority vote in the state legislature or alocal popular vote to raise certain fees. Los Angeles County and the bag ban’sproponents don’t seem to mind the new requirement; they argue that it does notapply simply because the grocers, not the government, gets to keep the fee. Thisappears to be an attempt to tiptoe around the vote requirement and,unfortunately, a disregard for the will of the voters who are fed up with stealthtaxation through rising fees.


Plastic bag bans, taxes, and fees areonly the latest fad in questionable public policy. Proponents claim that thesewill help reduce litter in the environment. But the fact of the matter is thatas the price of a good increases or becomes less readily available, consumerseither buy less of the good or, more likely, seek the good from another,cheaper source. Ironically, the less costly good may be of lower quality andmore damaging to the environment. Bag bans and taxes in other metropolitanareas, such as Seattle and Washington, D.C. have not demonstrated much success.


Hopefully, Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors willcome to their senses and reject this measure on Tuesday. If you live in LosAngeles County, you should can let the Board know by clicking here that disregarding popular opinion on requiring votes on fees to enact aquestionable public policy is a terrible idea, and should be bagged.