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Plastic Bag Ban Clears Assembly - This Time

Jeff Barnard / AP

Jeff Barnard / AP

The second time was the charm for backers of a statewide plastic bag ban in California. The bill passed the Assembly Thursday 44-29 – three days after it fell three votes short on its first try.

A grocery workers union’s flip in position appears to have been the key to the measure’s change of fate.

On Monday, hours before the bag ban came up for its first vote in the Assembly, the United Food and Commercial Workers union pulled its support for the measure.

On Wednesday, UFCW announced it was back on board after reaching an agreement with Safeway on what appears to have been a completely unrelated issue.

And on Thursday, seven Democrats who had abstained on Monday voted for the bill – and their support pushed it over the top.

"I think it did create a little confusion, to be honest, on Monday," said state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), the bill's author, "and that might have held back some of the votes that went up
confidently today."

Padilla said the measure was not amended between Monday and Thursday to win the union's support back.

The bill would ban single-use plastic bags statewide at groceries, pharmacies and large retailers like Target and WalMart starting in July 2014. It would also require the stores to charge a fee of at least 10 cents on paper bags.

The measure must still pass the Senate, where it failed last year, before it can advance to the governor’s desk.

Meanwhile, the Legislature sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that would tighten regulations on ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber. Measures that would regulate groundwater and allow all California employees to earn paid sick leave have yet to come up for final votes.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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