Confusion over California Propositions 65 and 67 is clouding the public understanding of the real issue- plastic bag ban.
In recent weeks, Californians have been inundated with print advertising, TV commercials and social media clamor about a large number of ballot propositions. All of these initiatives and propositions are very important and require a fair amount of thinking and soul searching before exercising our right of vote. However, in this article, we want to talk about a pair of propositions concerning plastic bag ban and the confusion surrounding the issue.
Many voters are exceedingly confused whether to vote YES or NO on the two interrelated but extremely baffling propositions; Prop.65 and 67. It looks like special interest groups or out of state plastic bag manufacturers have cleverly worded these two propositions in efforts to confuse the real issue. Let’s cut to the chase and analyze the intended purpose & possible outcome of these propositions.
Proposition 67 is actually a referendum on a law (SB-270) passed by the California Legislature in 2014 banning single-use plastic bags and requiring the retailers to collect a fee of at least 10 cents for paper carryout bags. Under this law, retailers are allowed to keep the revenue to cover the cost of the paper bags. The ten cent fee also provides some compensation for the retailers’ efforts in raising consumer awareness about the plastic bag ban. Clearly, this law while a blessing for our ecological environment is a serious setback to the revenue & profitability of plastic bag industry. Hence these out of state plastic bag manufacturers and their affiliated special interest groups have spent millions of dollars on legal fees and signature collecting in order to put the issue to a referendum. Essentially, there was no need to put the issue to referendum unless someone was going to benefit from the negative outcome of the ballot. That someone, without a doubt, is the out of state bag manufacturing industry bent upon capturing the California plastic bag business. Unless a majority of Californians affirm the law (SB-270) with a resounding YES vote, it will be repealed. In that case, all the hard work that was done by the eco- conscious public, environmental groups, and socially responsible nonprofit organizations will be wasted. That is why it is extremely important to vote YES on proposition 67.
Proposition 65, on the other hand, is a related initiative that is also put on the ballot by the plastic bag industry. This proposition states that if Proposition 67 passes, the revenue based on 10 cents of the paper bag fees must be directed to a wildlife conservation fund instead of going to the retailers. Since people are used to getting the carryout plastic bags for free at grocery stores and other retail outlets, the thought of paying 10 cents per bag has caused some resentment towards the retail chains among the general public. Naturally, the proponents of Proposition 65 have seized upon this opportunity and are trying to capitalize on the public’s sentiment.
Here again, the proponents of the proposition are none other than out of state plastic bag manufacturers & their special interest affiliates. They articulate that proposition 67 will grow profits for grocery store chains that get to keep all of the new (fee - based) tax revenue. “Don’t be fooled, not one penny of the bag ban tax goes to the environment”, they warn the California consumers. With this argument, the plastic bag manufacturing industry is trying to channel consumers’ resentment towards grocery store chains and consequently drum up more support for the Prop.65. What they are really hoping for is that if a vast majority of voters is convinced by their rationale then Prop.65 will get more votes than Prop.67. “But, what’s wrong with that”, you may ask. Let me explain.
These out of state plastic bag manufacturing companies and their affiliate groups are promoting a hidden agenda. What sounds like a great measure that will divert the retail stores’ fee-based revenue to environmental causes is a red herring planted to take public’s attention off the Prop.67 and focus it on Prop.65 instead. This is an extremely clever & tricky strategy to undermine the real issue of the plastic bag ban. What seems so innocuous and noble an effort on the surface is deeply rooted in self-serving objectives. One needs to read the full text of each proposition to get to the bottom of this. I have done just that.
When you read the full text of Prop.65, it says that if Prop.65 passes by getting more votes than Prop.67, then there can be NO STATEWIDE CARRYOUT BAG LAW. Here is precisely what the fine print says; “alternatively, a provision of Proposition 65 could be interpreted by the courts as preventing Senate Bill (SB) 270 from going into effect at all”. There it is- end of the story for the bag ban. Do you see how cleverly bag manufacturing companies have tried to divert public attention from the heart of the matter (bag ban) to a non-issue by appealing to the emotions of the general public? This is what’s called “red herring” in business management terminology and this is what the bag manufacturing companies have used as a strategic approach when preparing Proposition 65 and then spending millions of dollars on advertisement in California to further their agenda.
While these out of state groups were hoping to fool California voters by putting confusing propositions on the ballot, a number of environmental organizations, eco-conscious groups, and informed individuals have jumped into the fray to thwart their efforts. Environmental organizations like Heal the Bay, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Surf Rider Foundation all oppose Proposition 65 and urge the voters to vote YES on Proposition 67. Ventura County’s popular Weekly Newspaper; VC Reporter quotes Bill Hickman, vice chair of the Ventura County chapter of Surfrider Foundation, saying that Prop.65 is funded by the plastic bag industry and that he will be voting NO on it and YES on Prop.67. He further asserts that “full text of Prop.65 may contain a poison pill that would try to supersede prop.67 if it (prop.65) gets more votes”. So, there you have it from a number of organizations and individuals that are passionate advocates of environmental causes and are doing a remarkable amount of work for the betterment of California coast, oceans, and environmental needs of planet earth.
In conclusion, we appeal to all our California blog readers to vote NO on Prop.65 on November 8th. And, let’s deal with the menace of plastic bags by overwhelmingly saying YES to Prop.67. It is incumbent upon all of us to keep our coast, our lakes, and rivers clean and our oceans sparkling blue. Our ecological organism, hundreds of thousands of waterfowls, and marine mammals are looking up to us to rid the planet earth of plastic bags & other plastic junk thus providing a safe environment for all creatures that share the planet Earth.
Thank you for your understanding and your support.