Capitol Alert

Foes of California plastic bag ban press ahead on referendum

In this file photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, plastic single-use bags are carried past the State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif.
In this file photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, plastic single-use bags are carried past the State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. AP

Opponents of California’s newly-signed ban on single-use plastic bags have been cleared to begin collecting signatures for a referendum, state elections officials said Friday.

The announcement comes just more than a week after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill phasing out plastic bags used at grocery stores and other retailers.

Proponents of the referendum must collect signatures from 504,760 registered voters to qualify for the statewide ballot, according to the secretary of state.

The statewide ban on plastic bags was expected to be challenged almost as soon as Brown signed it. Last week, an industry group called the American Progressive Bag Alliance said it aimed to place a referendum on the 2016 ballot.

“Our research confirms that the vast majority of California voters are opposed to legislation that bans recyclable plastic bags and allows grocers to charge and keep fees on other bags,” a release from the organization said at the time.

The legislation signed by the Democratic governor was a victory for environmentalists and came after similar bans in cities throughout California. The bill was one of the most contentious measures of the legislative session.

The proponent of the referendum measure was listed as Doyle L. Johnson. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

Call David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1215. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders.

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