Voters will consider a new use for bag fees on November ballot

Reprinted from The Los Angeles Times

California voters in November will not only decide whether to uphold the state’s plastic bag ban, but will also whether to redirect fees on paper and reusable bags to environmental projects.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla on Wednesday announced that a bag fee initiative, backed by the plastic bag industry, has qualified for the Nov. 8 statewide ballot.

The American Progressive Bag Alliance submitted nearly 600,000 signatures in favor of the initiative after it gathered  more than 800,000 signatures on petitions for a referendum on the statewide bag ban.

The bag ban law “has never been about protecting the environment,” Lee Califf, executive director of the bag alliance, said in a prepared statement. “This measure gives voters the opportunity to make sure that any state-mandated fee will go to environmental causes, which is what voters thought they were getting in the first place.”

The ballot measure would require stores to deposit their bag sale proceeds into a special fund administered by the Wildlife Conservation Board. It would mandate the board develop regulations to implement the law.

An analysis by the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office has estimated that revenue redirected from retailers to environmental efforts could total tens of millions of dollars annually.

If the referendum is successful in stopping the statewide ban on single-use bags, then the initiative would only impact bag fees in communities with local bans in place.