Attorney General Ken Paxton on Thursday filed paperwork urging the Texas Supreme Court to eliminate plastic bag bans across Texas, including Austin’s.
Paxton is seeking for the court to affirm an earlier decision that overturned a bag ban in Laredo. However, he also wants to court to expand the ruling to eliminate all bag bans across the state.
“Texas must be empowered to enforce its statewide solution of waste disposal,” the brief said. “To give full meaning to the Legislature’s directive about the management of waste, the Court should clarify that municipalities cannot pass waste management duties onto consumers by banning packaging or containers.”
About 10 cities in Texas have local ordinances regulating or banning single-use plastic shopping bags, according to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative policy group. Such bans aim to curb litter and reduce other environmental issues, but many conservatives argue that such measures infringe on the liberties of consumers and businesses.
Last year, Paxton sued the city of Brownsville, which required a $1 environmental fee per transaction that included plastic bags.
Austin’s ordinance doesn’t impose a bag fee, but some retailers choose to charge customers for bags of a thicker plastic, designed to be reusable. The Texas Retailers Association sued Austin over the ban in 2013 but dropped the lawsuit before it went to court.
Paxton said the Texas Health and Safety Code prohibits cities from creating bag bans that restrict the sale or use of a waste container.
“Municipalities do not get to violate Texas law merely because they don’t like it,” Paxton said in a news release. “We’re asking the Texas Supreme Court to uphold the law so that the ruling can be used to invalidate similar ordinances across Texas.”