The city of Austin announced that its plastic bag ban would end in July due to a recent Texas Supreme Court ruling. The Laredo Merchants Association sued the city of Laredo back in March 2015. They were arguing that the city’s ban on single-use bags conflicted with a state law regulating solid waste disposal.
The Laredo case made its way to the supreme court in January. The Texas Supreme Court ruled unanimously on June 22 that a state law on solid waste disposal pre-empted Laredo’s city ordinance on solid waste disposal. This ruling resolved a long-standing question over whether local governments were allowed to impose such bans.
Austin’s bag ban was a similar situation where the city had an ordinance that the state also had a law against. There were several other cities that had similar bans including Fort Stockton, Port Aransas and Brownsville. The court’s decision held that those bans are unenforceable as well.
The city of Austin withdrew the bag ban after receiving a letter from Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, that reminded them the bans were “illegal” and no longer “enforceable.”
The Supreme Court ruling received praise from the Attorney General but criticism from many environmental groups. A spokesperson from the city of Austin said that it was “disappointing” that the city was losing the ban because it helped the environment but was hopeful citizens would continue to do their best to minimize plastic waste.
The state of Texas government has had a history of fighting with local government. The bag bans were one of many issues where the state government attempts to over rule local ordinances.
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