Can’t get enough of SB 270 in California?


With February over and hopefully bringing Spring to many of us, the status of SB 270 is also changing. As of February 25, 2015 SB 270 has been suspended. Let’s review how we got here:

  • Remember in 2014, the California legislature passed and Governor Brown signed SB 270. This legislation bans single-use plastic bags and mandates a ten cent minimum tax and post-consumer recycled content criteria on paper bags. This was big news, because California became the first state to pass statewide bag legislation.
  • However, industry opponents launched a referendum campaign to place SB 270 on the ballot. This is because if a referendum is qualified, voters will be given the final decision on the legislation. Over 800,000 signatures were submitted.
  • The referendum has qualified. Now, SB 270 will be suspended pending the outcome of a statewide vote in November 2016. This also allows other municipalities in California to move forward with their own bag legislation again!
  • California also has SB 1253. This is a comprehensive reform of California’s initiative and referendum process. SB 1253 allows anyone to seek a legislative fix to “matters embraced” in a referendum. It also permits proponents to withdraw a referendum at any time before it is qualified for the ballot.

    Now that the SB 270 referendum qualified, proponents will no longer be able to withdraw the referendum, and a statewide vote in November 2016 will decide SB270 fate. However, the legislature may still consider amendments to the suspended sections of SB 270. If legislation is passed, the referendum vote will still take place, and if SB 270 survives the vote, it would be subject to any amendments passed by the legislature before the vote. For example, if a bill removing the paper bag tax were to pass the legislature, yet voters upheld SB 270 at the ballot, SB 270 would go into effect without the paper bag tax.

    In California, all legislation must have been introduced by February 27 for action in 2015. Assembly member Matthew Harper (R) introduced two bills; AB 190, which would repeal SB 270 in its entirety, and AB 191, which would amend SB 270 to remove the ten cent tax on paper bags.

    Make sure to keep checking our website for updates on all single use bag legislation that is pending or being implemented. We are sure to see more California cities and counties implement their own ordinances now that SB 270 will not be decided until November 2016. Our retail packaging specialists stay on top of the ever changing market conditions. Let us help you navigate bag legislation in the municipalities you sell into and select the best packaging for your stores. We hope that you will contact us by phone at 888-429-5673 or via email at baglaws@swalter.com

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