BYOB: Bring Your Own Bag. California lawmakers propose banning all plastic grocery bags

Good morning and welcome to the A.M. Alert!

COULD PLASTIC BAGS GO AWAY FOR GOOD?

A decade ago, California lawmakers looking to cut down on plastic waste in state landfills (and the water) passed SB 270, barring grocery stores from handing out single-use plastic bags to customers.

But the law left one glaring exception: Thicker, multi-use plastic bags were still allowed, for a nominal 10-cent fee.

Now, Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, D-Orinda, and Sens. Catherine Blakespear, D-Encinitas, and Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, are teaming up to eliminate that exception, in the form of AB 2236 and SB 1053.

“Ten years ago, California attempted to ban plastic bags to stem pollution. Yet, these insidious relics persist, choking our waterways, imperiling wildlife, and despoiling our ecosystems,” Bauer-Kahan said in a statement.

She called her bill a “battle cry against plastic pollution.”

“Plastic bag bans work — so it’s no wonder why the plastics industry has been figuring out ways to undermine the intent of the law,” said Jenn Engstrom of CALPIRG, a sponsor of the bills. “Especially in the last few years, plastic bag companies have circumvented the law’s intent by mass producing thicker plastic bags that they claim are exempt from the law because they can technically be reused.”

It’s unclear whether these bills will face opposition — but SB 270 faced stiff resistance when it came to a vote, passing out of the Senate, 22-15, and the Assembly, 45-31.

Both bills have yet to be assigned to a committee.

TEAMSTERS TO RALLY FOR AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE BILL

California lawmakers are trying again to mandate that self-driving trucks have a trained driver behind the wheel, with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters planning to come to the Capitol steps Monday to rally behind the effort.

Recall that last fall, Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed AB 316, by Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters, calling that bill’s ban on driverless trucks “unnecessary for the regulation and oversight of heavy-duty autonomous vehicle technology in California,” and saying that the existing regulatory framework is sufficient to handle that matter.

This year, Aguiar-Curry has returned with AB 2286, which bans the operation of autonomous vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds on public roads “for testing purposes, transporting goods, or transporting passengers” without a human being behind the wheel.

The Teamsters argue that driverless vehicles have caused problems in the cities where they have been operating, including one such vehicle striking and dragging a pedestrian in San Francisco.

“Monday’s rally is the latest escalation by the Teamsters to keep unsafe autonomous vehicles off our streets, protect good-paying union jobs, and ensure local communities have a say in AV deployment,” according to a Teamsters statement.

The rally is set to begin at 2 p.m. Monday on the west steps of the Capitol.

Aguiar-Curry is scheduled to be joined by Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Boron, and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, in speaking at the rally.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“What I saw of that report last night, I believe as a former prosecutor, the comments that were made by that prosecutor? Gratuitous, inaccurate and inappropriate.”

- Vice President Kamala Harris, responding to the report published by Special Counsel Robert Hur that stated that President Joe Biden appeared to have a poor memory, via CSPAN on Threads.

Best of The Bee:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court last week seemed likely to allow former President Donald Trump to remain on Colorado’s ballot, with both conservative and liberal-leaning justices questioning whether a single state should be allowed to decide a national candidate’s legitimacy, via Gillian Brassil.

  • The city of Sacramento Thursday cleared six homeless tents from Cesar Chavez Plaza ahead of filming for a major movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, via Theresa Clift.

  • Thousands of California migrant farmworkers must leave their affordable housing every year when the state closes the complexes seasonally — now a Central Valley lawmaker and a legislative leader want to change that, via Lindsey Holden.

  • Once again, a Republican California lawmaker has introduced a bill that would amend state law to require school districts to publish sex education and HIV prevention education materials online before they are shown to children, via Andrew Sheeler.