Capitol Alert

You’ll still get paper receipts when you shop. California kills effort to reduce them

A bill that would have required customers to ask for paper receipts if they wanted a physical copy has been killed for the year.

The proposal from Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, failed to make its way out a key budget committee Friday afternoon, following concerns from retailers and some lawmakers that it would be more difficult for advertisers to market their products to customers through coupons.

Ting said his plan would have reduced pollution, given that many people throw away their receipts after they are handed them. He was also concerned about exposure to certain chemicals that could be detected on receipts.

“Trying to encourage people to use fewer receipts made a lot of sense,” Ting said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t successful this year, but we’ll take a hard look at coming back for next year. ... If I don’t want the coupons, I don’t think I should be forced to take something I don’t want. Generally, I don’t want the receipts, so I don’t think I should be forced to take the receipts.”

Ting faced an uphill battle with strong opposition from the California Restaurant Association and the California Retailers Association.

The retailers association wrote in a message on the bill in June that “banning this access to costs savings will harm those who use coupons to save money on essential grocery and other items,” adding that Ting’s proposal could be considered “a limit of commercial speech.” Other groups were concerned the bill could make it more difficult to address theft and process returns.

Ting said he’s unsure whether he’ll keep the exact wording of Assembly Bill 161 when he re-introduces it next year.

“Any time you do a bill for the first time, you have to work out a lot of kinks,” Ting said. “It’s a question of whether we bring back the exact same bill or bring back something that’s a little more tailored. We’re going to look at a wide variety of options.”

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Bryan Anderson is a political reporter for The Bee. He covers the California Legislature and reports on wildfires and transportation. He also hosts The Bee’s “California Nation” podcast.