The ban on using plastic bags in California has a reprieve, at least until November 2016. Last week, officials for the state’s Secretary of State office confirmed that opponents of the plastic bag ban gathered enough signatures to secure a place on the November 2016 general election ballot for a referendum on the continued use of plastic bags.
Election officials confirmed that more than enough signatures were gathered to place the referendum on the future of the bags on the ballot so that state voters will decide the disposition of the bags.
The referendum now suspends the law, Senate Bill 270, passed this fall and that Gov. Jerry Brown signed on Sept. 30, 2014. SB 270 banned the bags from use in larger stores beginning in July 2015. In July 2016, the ban would extend to convenience food stores, food marts and entities engaged in the sale of a limited line of goods. These are all suspended until November 2016, when voters will approve or reject the bill.
Local ordinances that banned the plastic bags — such as in Palm Desert and Palm Springs — will not be affected by the 2016 referendum.
In order to qualify for the ballot, the ban on single-use plastic bags referendum needed 504,760 valid petition signatures, which is equal to 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the November 2010 gubernatorial election. A referendum can qualify via random sampling of petition signatures if the sampling projects a number of valid signatures greater than 110 percent of the required number. The plastic bag ban referendum needed at least 555,236 projected valid signatures to qualify by random sampling, and it exceeded that threshold.