Proposition 65: Carryout Bags. Charges.

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Rejected
The Question: 

If a statewide ban on single-use carry-out grocery bags is enacted, and stores are required to offer reusable bags for sale, should the money from the sale of those bags go to a special fund for environmental purposes?

The Situation: 

The Legislature passed a ban on single-use bags in 2014, which would have gone into effect on July 1, 2015; however, its implementation was suspended in February 2015 when a referendum qualified for the state ballot. The referendum appears elsewhere on this ballot as Proposition 67. The ban passed by the Legislature required that stores offer to sell reusable bags and charge at least 10 cents apiece for those bags (except to low-income customers). Stores would be allowed to keep that money, and to use it for certain specified purposes, such as covering the costs of providing carryout bags.

The Proposal: 

Proposition 65 would redirect money collected by stores through the sale of reusable bags, whenever any state law bans free distribution of single-use bags and mandates the sale of any other kind of carry-out bag. Proposition 65 would create a new state fund, administered by the Wildlife Conservation Board, and require stores to deposit bag sale proceeds into that fund to support certain environmental projects. Proposition 65 would only be implemented if the Legislature’s bag ban is upheld by the voters’ approval of Proposition 67, or if a future, similar, bag ban is passed.

Proposition 65 would apply statewide, including to the approximately 150 California cities and counties that have their own single-use carryout bag laws.

If both Proposition 65 and 67 pass, the one with the most votes would prevail. Thus, if Proposition 67 receives the most votes, the 10-cent fee would be retained by the stores; if Proposition 65 receives the most votes, the 10-cent fee would go to the environmental fund. 

Fiscal Effect: 

If voters uphold the bag ban by approving Proposition 67, and also pass Proposition 65 by more votes than Proposition 67, potential revenues for certain environmental programs could reach tens of millions of dollars annually.

If voters uphold the bag ban by passing Proposition 67 and also pass Proposition 65 by fewer votes than Proposition 67, there would be minor fiscal effects.

If voters reject the bag ban in Proposition 67, and pass Proposition 65, there would be no immediate fiscal effect. However, any future statewide bag ban could trigger the provisions of Proposition 65.

What a YES or NO Vote Means
A YES Vote Means: 

If state law (1) prohibits giving customers certain carryout bags for free and (2) requires a charge for other types of carryout bags, the resulting revenue would be deposited in a new state fund to support certain environmental programs.

A NO Vote Means: 

If charges on carryout bags are required by a state law, that law could direct the use of the resulting revenue toward any purpose.

Support & Opposition
Supporters Say: 
  • Grocery stores should not be allowed to profit from the sale of reusable bags to consumers, who are prevented from getting free bags.                       
  • A bag ban’s goal is environmentalism, so any money customers pay for reusable bags should go to environmental purposes, not to the stores.
Opponents Say: 
  • Grocery stores would not profit from the sale of reusable bags, which cost up to 15 cents apiece to produce.        
  • Proposition 65's only purpose is to distract from the real issue at hand, phasing out plastic bags, which is the real priority for the environment.