Plastic Bag Manufacturer to file Prop 26 lawsuit against LA County
Hilex Poly Co., LLC (one of the same plastic bag manufacturers that sued ChicoBag) has announced that it will file a lawsuit against LA County today, claiming that the paper bag charge included in LA County's plastic bag ordinance is an unconstitutional "tax" under Prop 26's amendment to the California Constitution. Prop 26 amends the California Constitution to reclassify certain fees as “taxes,” which need a 2/3 vote (by the legislature at the state level and by the voters for local initiatives). The full text of Prop 26 is available here and the summary here. The plastic bag industry threatened to file this lawsuit to overturn the ordinance at LA County's hearing last year, but the lawsuit was not filed until today, which just happens to be the same day that the City of Pasadena scheduled a hearing regarding its proposed plastic bag ordinance. Hilex Poly has proven that it is incredibly skilled at using the legal system to intimidate anyone standing in the way of its products. This lawsuit is likely to ultimately fail on the merits, and seems to be just another delay tactic by a desperate industry.
The reason why Prop 26 does not apply to the ordinance is because the entire charge is retained by the retailer and is thus not "imposed by a local government" and does not result in revenue to local government. Alternatively, the 10-cent charge does not exceed the reasonable cost of a recycled paper bag. Here are the applicable exceptions built into the text of the law (emphasis added):
(e) As used in this article, “tax” means any levy, charge, or exaction of any kind imposed by a local government, except the following:
(2) A charge imposed for a specific government service or product provided directly to the payor that is not provided to those not charged, and which does not exceed the reasonable costs to the local government of providing the service or product.