Broad Alliance of Business and Consumer Groups Dismayed by California Assembly's Passage of Grocery Tax

Jun 03, 2010, 13:52 ET from Coalition Against AB 1998

Groups Say Assembly Bill 1998 (Brownley) Is Anti-Consumer, Anti-Job, and Anti-Environment

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An alliance of business and consumer groups opposed to legislation that would ban free, recyclable plastic shopping bags expressed dismay at the Assembly's narrow passage of the measure yesterday, saying it will negatively impact small businesses, jeopardize hundreds of manufacturing jobs, and hurt the environment. Opponents say the measure could end up costing California shoppers up to a billion dollars a year by forcing them to pay for paper and reusable shopping bags.  The bill now heads to the Senate, where a vote is expected later this summer.

The growing alliance that has voiced opposition to the measure includes: California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, California Manufacturers & Technology Association, American Chemistry Council, Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, Corona Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Chambers of Commerce Silicon Valley, Black Business Association, Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce, Carson Black Chamber of Commerce, Silicon Valley Black Chamber of Commerce, Long Beach Black Chamber of Commerce, Antelope Valley Black Chamber of Commerce, Moreno Valley Black Chamber of Commerce, Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce, Yadari Enterprises, San Diego Urban Economic Corporation, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Alameda County, Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Fresno -Los Angeles Metro Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, South Bay Latino Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles - Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, Long Beach Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Orange County, Greater Corona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Inland Empire Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and California Coalition of Filipino American Chambers of Commerce, Los Angeles.

Groups opposed to the bill say the close vote shows that the public and members of the Assembly have some real concerns about the negative impact this legislation will have on jobs and the economy.  They commended the Assembly members who stood by California's consumers and small businesses by voting no on AB 1998.

Shortly before passage, Assembly Bill 1998 (Brownley) was amended to include a provision that would require a store to "sell a consumer at the point of sale a recycled paper bag for at least $0.05," but grocers can pass their cost on even if it's higher, which could be $0.08 or $0.10.

Opponents of the measure said that the bill would require grocery stores and retailers to impose high costs on millions of Californians.  Further, the bill would give a competitive edge to large grocers who can negotiate lower prices for bags, forcing California's small businesses the harsh choice of passing an even higher cost on to consumers – or absorbing higher costs than larger stores.  

"In addition to the adverse impact on consumers, AB 1998 jeopardizes 500 good paying manufacturing jobs in the Los Angeles region, not to mention hundreds of other jobs like suppliers, distributors and vendors that would be put at risk if this bill passes," said Julian Canete, executive director of the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

"It is impossible to square AB 1998 with the need to protect jobs and foster an economic climate for business growth," said Canete. "If our State Senators are truly serious about getting California back on track, they will stop AB 1998 in its tracks."

AB 1998 puts hundreds of California bag manufacturing jobs at risk, not to mention the nearly billion dollars in potential new grocery costs for Californians.  Implementing the bill would also require $1.5 million in new state spending and create a bag bureaucracy at a time when California is reducing health, social and education programs.

Alliance members say AB 1998 is a bad idea not just for economic and consumer reasons, but because it could also increase impacts to the environment.

"Forcing consumers away from plastic bags can lead to unintended environmental impacts, such as increased energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and trucks on the road," said Tim Shestek of the American Chemistry Council.

Those opposed to the bill say concerns about plastic bags should be addressed through litter prevention and promoting plastic bag recycling.  They warn that passage of AB 1998 threatens to dismantle California's growing recycling infrastructure for plastic bags and many other product wraps.  

In 2006 California passed groundbreaking legislation (AB 2449) to promote the recycling of plastic bags and wraps statewide that has since inspired many jurisdictions across the Unites States to take similar action. Coalition partners say that the recycling rates for bags and wraps are climbing quickly and steadily, and that State Senators just need to give California's recycling legislation a chance to work – instead of forcing a billion dollar cost on California's families.  

Media Contact: Stevan Allen (916) 448-1336

SOURCE Coalition Against AB 1998