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Latino Leaders in California Legislature Steer Statewide Plastic Bag Ban Bill onto Governor Brown's Desk

Linda Escalante

Posted August 30, 2014

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After several attempts to pass a California statewide ban on  flyaway single-use plastic bags, our state Assembly and Senate have made proud history by voting to turn our Golden State into the first of the 50 states to ban these bags. 


Senate Bill 270 was spearheaded by the state’s Latino political powerhouses  NALEO President and State Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), Senate President Pro Tem Elect Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), and CA Latino Caucus President , Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Huntington Park).  Their collaboration and leadership on this bill, combined with the fierce advocacy of grassroots environmental activists, the support from grocers and the United Farm & Commercial Workers union, and the momentum from more than 100 city or county bans supported by their constituencies, configured the winning formula so that the bill could come out of the State Assembly with 44 votes in favor, and 22 votes out of the Senate. 

And the victory is very, very sweet.

As a Latina environmentalist, I’m particularly proud of the overwhelming support for SB270 from almost all the members of the Latino Caucus in both houses.  Speaker Emeritus John Perez (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Member Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) deserve a special recognition for their passionate speeches in support of this bill and the environment on the Assembly Floor.  I thank them and their Assembly and Senate colleagues on behalf of all the future generations whom will inherit the environment we leave behind.

Principal bill author Senator Padilla said it best:  “Single-use plastic bags not only litter our beaches, but also our mountains, our deserts, and our rivers, streams and lakes.  SB 270 strikes the right balance.  It will protect the environment and it will protect California jobs as the state transitions to reusable bags. A throw-away society is not sustainable.  With SB 270 we have an opportunity to greatly reduce the flow of billions of single-use plastic bags that are discarded throughout our state.  This is good for California and reflects our values as a state that cares about the environment, sea life and wildlife.”

Thumbnail image for Azul deja-el-plastico2-11x17.jpg

I’ve said it before: Latinos are the greenest.  Our elected representatives received lots of support from Latino led environmental and environmental justice organizations, like Pacoima Beautiful, AZUL, Sachamama, and Mujeres de la Tierra.  Without their relentless and powerful advocacy on the ground in key areas of the state, and on social media and Spanish-language media, SB270 would have not made it through this legislative session and passed so successfully. Pacoima Beautiful asserted in an HOY Los Angeles OpEd yesterday that ”these plastic bags are a polluting product that contradicts the long tradition of the Latino community to use reusable bags.”  Latinos don’t like to pollute the environment even if matters of convenience are on the line.

The bill now heads to Governor Brown’s desk.  I wish to be optimistic that he will agree with the people and the legislature and mark the end of flyaway single-use plastic bags as a symbol of our unsustainable past. 

[Top Image Courtesy: Carlos Zegarra, Sachamama. Bottom Image Courtesy: Marcela Gutierrez, AZUL Project]

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Graciela TiscareƱo-SatoAug 30 2014 09:41 PM

As a Latina mother and carrier of ALWAYS reusable bags, I'm thrilled w/this progress; it's been a long time coming.

As a keynote speaker on sustainable business practices and the author of a book that celebrates Latino leadership in the green economy ["Latinnovating: Green American Jobs and the Latinos Creating Them"], I'm doing back flips of happiness! Flexing our political muscle is what we MUST do to counter wasteful industry practices that have gone on way too long.

Sign it Jerry, sign it!

Graciela Tiscareno-Sato

GuthrumSep 1 2014 09:32 AM

I am not so sure about this bill. It may end up costing people jobs. It could end up causing the price of groceries to go up. We re-use the plastic bags that we get at the stores, so they just don't wind up in the garbage. This will cause people to buy more garbage bags to carry their groceries in. It will increase the use of paper bags and cardboard boxes causing more trees will be cut down. Re-usable bags are fine until they get dirty and start carrying mold if people don't keep them clean. Have plastic bags really been that much of a problem?

shop keeperSep 2 2014 01:55 PM

No where in the article does it say when this goes into effect, and what do shop keepers do who already have bags for customers. Are we supposed to throw them out?

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