The secretary of state's office says a referendum seeking to repeal California's statewide ban on plastic bags has qualified for the November 2016 ballot.
Bill Mabie, chief deputy in the secretary of state's office, says proponents had more than 555,000 valid signatures. The trade group seeking the referendum needed 505,000 valid signatures to qualify.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed the ban last fall and it was scheduled to be phased in starting in July at large supermarkets. But the referendum suspends the ban until voters weigh in on November 2016.
The American Progressive Bag Alliance said the ban amounts to a cash giveaway to grocers that would lead to a loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs. The group says Californians can now decide.
“SB 270 was never a bill about the environment," says Lee Califf, Executive Director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance. "It was a backroom deal between the California Grocers Association and their union friends to scam consumers out of billions of dollars in bag fees – all under the guise of environmentalism. California voters will now have the chance to vote down a terrible law that, if implemented, would kill 2,000 local manufacturing jobs and funnel obscene profits to big grocers without any money going to a public purpose or environmental initiative.”
Supporters of the ban says they are confident voters would support the law.
“It’s not surprising that after spending more than $3.2 million, 98 percent of which is from out of state, the plastic bag industry has bought its way onto the California ballot to protect its profits,” said Mark Murray of Californians vs. Big Plastic. “Every poll shows that Californians strongly support the law, and the $30 million to $50 million it will cost the plastics industry to launch a full-fledged campaign in 2016 will be proven to be an act of political malpractice, particularly since nearly half the state will no longer have plastic bags by election day. We are confident that Californians will protect a law that is already in place in 138 communities that will save marine wildlife, reduce litter, and save taxpayers millions of dollars."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.