Update: Alexandria Bruton, Public Information Specialist with the City of Austin, has issued the following statement on the bags lawsuit:
“Although the City has not yet been served with the lawsuit, we are familiar with the allegations and we are prepared to defend the ordinance. We stand behind the intent of the ordinance and do not believe it poses a hardship to affected businesses. The City is committed to working with businesses to help them comply with the ordinance and offers a number of resources to make this process as easy as possible.”
Original post: Austin’s ban on single-use bags starts Friday. But a business group hasn’t stopped fighting against it.
The Texas Retailers Association has filed a lawsuit against the city, arguing the ban is against the state's Health and Safety Code. “We are bringing this suit regarding a state statue that we only fairly recently became aware of, which says no local government may pass an ordinance that prohibits or restricts baggage or containers like plastic bags," association president Ronnie Volkening said.
The lawsuit won’t keep the ban from going into effect on Friday since the group did not ask for an injunction, but it seeks an opinion on the ordinance's validity.
Volkening said that the retailers group had previously worked with the city between 2008 and 2009 in a voluntary recycling campaign. He added the current ordinance does not ban a range of other plastic bags he argues are just as harmful and costly to address as grocers' single-use plastic bags. He argued that a similar, voluntary program would be "less disruptive and less onerous on the consumers and frankly more comprehensive in that all types of plastic bags get addressed."