Maybe Dallas Won't Face a Lawsuit if It Passes Its Plastic Bag Ban After All

Categories: City Hall, News

PlasticBagLadiesFlickrBernardBurns.jpg
Flickr user Bernard Burns
Their argument would be more convincing if they hadn't sewn such fashionable wardrobes.
The Texas Retailers Associations and its allies in the fight against Dallas' proposed ban on plastic and other single-use bags have succeeded in stalling any action for the foreseeable future. So, even though Councilman Dwaine Caraway swears to us that the measure will ultimately pass, they've won at least a minor victory.

Nevertheless, the TRA is losing the war. As more cities that aren't Austin adopt them, bag bans seem increasingly like a legitimate response to litter and environmental degradation and less like lefty plots to destroy the American way of life. And the trade group, which counts all the major grocery-store chains as members, has given up any pretense that such measures are illegal.

The TRA, you'll remember, sued the city of Austin claiming its bag ban was illegal. The lawsuit was quite explicit on that point.

Texas law is clear: a city may not ban bags, unless authorized by the state to do so, which it has not. But this is exactly what Austin did.

See also: If Dallas Wants to Ban Plastic Bags, It Should Be Prepared to Get Sued by Retailers

The law went into effect anyway, and Austin has yet to suffer the ill effects critics warned of. No salmonella outbreaks from shoppers failing to sanitize their reusable bags, no flight to the suburbs to by groceries. On Monday, TRA quietly admitted defeat, dropping its legal challenge against the city.

In a statement explaining the decision, the group maintained that its goal all along was to seek clarity on the legislation, not attack it.

As we stated at the time the suit was filed, our primary goal is that both retailers and customers have clear direction as to what types of bags may be provided in Austin and elsewhere.

Recent developments during the discovery phase of the litigation have given us concern that the focus was being moved away from our primary purpose of seeking clarity as to the state of the law in Texas. For this reason, the Texas Retailers Association has made the decision to withdraw the lawsuit and seek other opportunities to address this challenging issue.

Translation: The TRA realized that it was going to lose in court and decided to save itself the embarrassment. Presumably, that means they won't take Dallas to court, which is probably a good thing. Because Caraway's declaration was less a prediction than a guarantee.


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17 comments
roo_ster
roo_ster

Hows about instead of banning perfectly useful objects, we go after the black/white/brown trash that is trashing the place? 

Threeboys
Threeboys

As a point of clarity, "Austin has yet to suffer the ill effects critics warned of. " possibly, at least in the short term, because HEB was given a 2 year exemption.

J_A_
J_A_

What about the little dog poop bags?

hilllbillle
hilllbillle

try to refuse a bag in a beer store and the clerk says 'no bag no beer'. i guess big brother has them damned if they do and damned if they don't. i'm damn tired of picking up these damn bags from my yard, fence and and trees.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

I bought a big bottle of gin Saturday and told them to forget the bag.  Did I break state law? 

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

While I support a plastic bag ban, I do have a few questions as to the wording of the ban,

1) State law requires that if you buy liquor that it be bagged. Generally that is a brown paper bag,. but that would be a one time use bag, no?

2) Does this mean that if I go to, say, Taco Bell, they can't put my food in a plastic bag?

I don't go to Austin much, and when I do I'm not eating Taco Bell or going to the liquor store, but I'm curious how this all works down there.

DMZ3
DMZ3

@Threeboys I shop at the HEB on Burnet and I don't see many people using them. They keep the bags hidden behind the counter and charge you for them. Cheaper and easier to bring your own.

DMZ3
DMZ3

@JaniceA You can still buy those in the pet's section of grocery stores, Wal-Mart, etc. in Austin. The ban here is really for 'single-use grocery bags' which is more narrow than "all plastic bags are banned everywhere NO PLASTIC" as people seem to think.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@JaniceA 

You will need to find a more environmentally friendly way to transport your little friend's calling cards.

Might I suggest a washable, reusable model?

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

@JaniceA  seems nobody wants to touch that messy detail. maybe the Observer will pick it up.

casiepierce
casiepierce

@hilllbillle What? Are you even from here? It is not a legal requirement in Texas to use a bag when walking outside a store with a six-pack.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@MikeWestEast You did not but the clerk technically did. It's a silly law, and maybe it has changed, but as of a decade ago all liquor was required to be bagged. Note that I said liquor, not beer and wine (don't ask me why) those are just bagged out of habit and as a courtesy. I used to work at Goody Goody and after that I was a sales rep at Glazers for several years so I had to undergo TABC classes and as far as I know that law is still on the books.

DMZ3
DMZ3

@P1Gunter Live in Austin here. It's mainly for grocery stores. I'm not quite sure how the wording is, exactly. But if you go to a restaurant and order take-out, they give it to you in a plastic bag.

I support the ban. The only inconvenience would be small convenience stores, which you might go into on a whim and not bring a reusable bag. But it's usually not too much of a hassle.

hilllbillle
hilllbillle

why in hell would big brother care about a bag on a bottle or a sixpak? thant is totally ridiculous....but...usually...so is big brother.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@DMZ3 @P1Gunter 

If you are buying enough stuff at a the convenience store to warrant using a bag at all, you're doing it wrong.

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