Lawsuit questions bag fee under Prop 26

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Oct. 7, 2011 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

A precedent setting lawsuit has been filed against Los Angeles (LA) County claiming fundamental provisions of Proposition 26 were violated when the County passed an ordinance banning the use of plastic bags and levying a 10-cent surcharge for paper bags.  As you may recall, Proposition 26 was approved by voters last year and increased the legislative vote requirement to pass any new fees, certain taxes or levies from a majority vote to a two-thirds vote. It also required voters to approve, either by a two-thirds or majority vote, any new local fees or levies.  The LA County Board of Supervisors approved the ordinance shortly after the passage of Proposition 26.

Filed this week, the lawsuit claims that while the 10-cent fee is collected by store retailers, the government dictates how the money can be used which, according to the lawsuit, makes the 10-cent fee a tax subject to voter approval.  According to the lawsuit, the County instructs retailers to use the money generated from the paper bag fee to cover the cost of ordinance compliance, providing paper bag and promotional materials for reusable bags.  In addition, the ordinance requires retailers to submit quarterly reports to the County regarding the amount of paper bags used, the amount of money generated from the fee and what measures are being taken to encourage consumer recycling.  Since the County is essentially instructing the retailers to act on its behalf, the lawsuit claims the ordinance levies an illegal tax that either needs to be repealed or put before the voters.

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