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Politics

California State Senate Rejects Plastic Bag Ban

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People walk with groceries in plastic bags in Chinatown in San Francisco. (David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

People walk with groceries in plastic bags. (David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

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SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) — State senators rejected a bill Thursday that would have phased out the use of single-use plastic checkout bags in grocery, drug and convenience stores.

Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, said he will try again next year.

It’s the fifth such bill to fail in the Senate since 2010.

Padilla’s SB405 had support this year from business groups that want to eliminate a patchwork of policies across the state. More than 70 local governments prohibit such bags. Already, nearly 20 percent of Californians live in areas that don’t permit the bags.

“It’s only a matter of time before we get there,” Padilla said after the vote.

Padilla argued that plastic can take centuries to deteriorate. The bags litter cities and can endanger wildlife.

More than 14 billion single-use plastic bags are distributed each year by California retailers, yet state officials say only about 5 percent are recycled.

Some of Padilla’s fellow Democrats said, however, that the ban would cost hundreds of jobs in plastic bag factories. Padilla argued without success that those factories can produce other plastic products, including the reusable grocery bags that would largely replace single-use bags.

Ten Democrats joined Republican senators in voting against the measure or refusing to vote. The bill fell three votes short on an 18-17 roll call.

“If you think plastic bags are single-use, you have not met my mother,” said Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens. He opposed the measure as harming poor shoppers as well as factory workers in his district.

Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Rocklin, said the emphasis should be on educating consumers about recycling or properly disposing of bags that many consumers use repeatedly.

“All you’ve got to do is go to a local park where someone’s taken their dog and you can understand how you can actually use the bag twice,” he said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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