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Texas Group Hopes To Stop Plastic Bag Bans
A last ditch effort to stop Austin's bag ban. The Texas Retailers Association has filed a lawsuit against the city. It argues Austin does not have the authority to enact the ordinance and that it violates state law.
The group filed the lawsuit five days before the ban takes place, so you'll still need to bring reusable bags come Friday. But eventually, the TRA hopes to bring plastic bags back in Austin and across the state.
"It appears to us, a reading of this statute clearly preempts the city's ordinance," said the President and CEO of the Texas Retailers Association, Ronnie Volkening on Tuesday.
He told us a few months ago a lawyer came to his office and presented the TRA with a little known statute from the state's Health and Safety Code. It said a local government may not "restrict the sale or use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law." The TRA believes that law validates its lawsuit against the city.
"When we find a law that we think does call into question the validity of a city ordinance, we feel duty bound," he explained.
The TRA said it put together the lawsuit as quickly as possible. It's not seeking an injunction to try and stop the ban by Friday, but hopes to eventually put a stop to the ban in Austin and three other Texas cities with similar bans. Those are Brownsville, South Padre Island and Fort Stockton.
"We will go back to square one and we will stand ready at that point to work with the city for whatever it deems to be the appropriate next step," Volkening said about if a judge agrees that the ban goes against state law.
The city told KEYE TV it does not believe the lawsuit will put Austin "back at square one."
Austin leaders sent us a statement saying, "We are familiar with the allegations and we are prepared to defend the ordinance. We stand behind the intent of the ordinance and do not believe it poses a hardship to affected businesses."
The TRA has always been an opponent of the ban and said instead, the city should expand voluntary programs encouraging customers to recycle plastic bags.
The TRA said it urged the courts to expedite the lawsuit, but could not give us a timeline on when to expect a decision. We'll follow the lawsuit's path and bring you any changes that come from the judge's decision.
Background info here
By Katherine Stolp