State drops bag ban lawsuit against Brownsville

Single Use Bag Ordinance in Austin has removed 50,000 pounds of plastic from annual waste.

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — After a fight about, what Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called, an illegal sales tax, the state has backed down after Brownsville city officials repealed their ‘environmental fee’ for plastic bag purchases.

The $1 fee on the purchase of single-use bags had been in place since January 2016. A.G. Paxton said the fee was in violation of Texas Tax Code and Health and Safety Code laws and filed a lawsuit against the city in Oct. 2016.

According to reports, the ‘environmental fee’ netted the city of Brownsville $71,000 per month. It was meant to reduce waste by discouraging the use of plastic bags.

The suit marked the first time the state sued a locality over a bag ban in recent years, though the Republican-controlled Legislature has previously tried unsuccessfully to outlaw such bans. In 2014, then-Attorney General Greg Abbott said city bans on single-use plastic bags are illegal.

Austin Resource Recovery says the environmental impact of the bag ban in Austin is significant. Within the first year of the ban, ARR says it saw about 30 percent fewer bags go into landfills.

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