On Wednesday, the Dallas City Council voted to repeal the city's bag fee ordinance after plastic bag manufacturers sued.
UPDATE June 14, 2015: Story has been updated below with election results.
June 5, 2015
On Wednesday, the local fight against plastic bags took a blow when the Dallas City Council voted 10-4 to repeal the Dallas bag fee that went into effect in January.
The council was compelled to overturn the ordinance after plastic bag manufacturers, including Hilex Poly, Superbag Operating, Ltd., the Inteplast Group, Ltd. and Advance Polybag, Inc., sued the city over the 5-cent bag fee last month.
According to the Dallas Morning News, they said it violated the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act, which says “a local government or other political subdivision may not adopt an ordinance, rule, or regulation to … assess a fee or deposit on the sale or use of a container or package.”
However, Zac Trahan, director of Texas Campaign for the Environment’s DFW office, said there’s still hope that a newly elected city council will ban the bags entirely, which some say would be more defendable against a lawsuit.
The original bag ordinance, the first of its kind in North Texas, was intended to curb plastic bag litter, which has become a common sight on roadways and in waterways, posing a hazard to wildlife.
According to a Dallas Morning News poll, the fee while not popular with everyone, has been effective in curbing bag use and promoting the use of reusable bags.
Before the City Council voted to repeal the bag fee last week, city councilman Dwaine Caraway made a passionate plea to ban the bags as his last term comes to end. Caraway, who has led the fight against plastic bags, brought in a fake tree and barbed wire fence littered with plastic bags to demonstrate how they've become a part of the landscape. TCE’s Plastic Bag Monster made an appearance as well.
“It was very melodramatic,” said Trahan. “The whole theater of it.”
However, Caraway's bag ban proposal lost 9-6. Council members Scott Griggs, Adam Medrano, Dwaine Caraway, Lee Kleinman, Philip Kingston and Carolyn Davis voted for the ban.
Ever optimistic, Trahan said after the City Council run-off elections on June 13, there may be enough votes to eventually win a bag ban.
The runoff candidates endorsed by the Dallas Green Alliance and the Sierra Club on its Turn Texas Green site, include for District 3, Joe Tave; District 7, Kevin Felder; and District 8, Dianne Gibson.
In District 10, the Dallas Green Alliance also endorsed Adam McGough.
In addition, Trahan said he speculates that Carolyn King Arnold in District 4 and Mark Clayton in District 9 could vote for the ban.
With four incumbants who are pro-ban, that's potentially six additional ban votes that could add up to the eight needed for a victory.
“There’s always hope,” said Trahan.
WHERE THE INCOMING CITY COUNCIL AND RUNOFF CANDIDATES STAND ON BAGS
• Voted to ban the bags
• New council members or June 13 runoff candidates who may vote to ban the bags.
• District 1: Scott Griggs voted for the bag ban.
• District 2: Adam Medrano voted for the bag ban.
• District 3: Runoff - Joe Tave is endorsed by Dallas Green Alliance and Sierra Club. UPDATE: Tave lost to Casey Thomas.
• District 4: New council member Carolyn King Arnold may vote the same as her predecessor Caraway, speculates Trahan.
District 5: Rick Callahan
District 6: Monica Alonzo
• District 7: Runoff - Kevin Felder is endorsed by Dallas Green Alliance and Sierra Club. UPDATE: Felder lost to Tiffinni Young.
• Disttrict 8: Runoff - Dianne Gibson is endorsed by Dallas Green Alliance and Sierra Club. UPDATE: Gibson lost to Erik Wilson.
• District 9: New council member Mark Clayton, endorsed by Dallas Green Alliance, may vote for the bag ban, says Trahan.
• District 10: Runoff - Adam McGough is endorsed by Dallas Green Alliance. UPDATE: McGough won.
•District 11: Lee Kleinman voted for the bag ban.
District 12: Sandy Greyson
District 13: Jennifer Staubach Gates
• District 14: Phillip Kingston voted for the bag ban.