While the intent to reduce plastic bag polluting is admirable, the sample ordinance that many local governments have promoted is overreaching, has provisions that are probably illegal, and certainly creates unnecessary difficulties for our struggling small businesses as well as their customers.
The ordinance not only prohibits plastic bags, but mandates that businesses charge their customers a minimum specified amount for a paper bag. Initially the minimum amount is 10 cents and it later rises to 25 cents.
Since when does any government in the United States have the authority to tell people they may not give something away but have to charge for it? The city councils could just as easily pass an ordinance stating that you may not give a piece of candy to a child, but that the child must pay for it. (After all, candy is not very good for the child — shouldn't the city council take action to stop it?)
This is complete absurdity. Note that this is not a "tax." The money does not go to the city but is retained by the merchant. (As a tax, it would have been illegal without a vote). How can anyone believe that payment requirement to be a legal mandate? Mayor Bloomberg revisited?
The ordinance goes on to attempt to define what makes a non-conforming bag acceptable (part of the definition being that it does not have handles), and defines the proper construction of paper bags.
The basic intent to remove polluting plastic bags is admirable, but the method is illegal, and ill-advised. I sincerely hope that merchants in the city will have the courage to refuse to collect the mandated fees, and that the city councils involved will undo, or at the very least intelligently revise, these poorly thought-out regulations. Can anyone suggest how to package a new unwrinkled prom dress in a paper bag made of re-used material? Stupidity in government needs to be resisted.