Report: Austin to end its bag ban after Texas Supreme Court ruling

The city of Austin announced Tuesday it will no longer enforce its ban on plastic bags after the Texas Supreme Court ruled that a similar ban in Laredo violated state law, KUT reported.

Single-use bag ban advocates hold a press conference before the Texas Supreme Court prior to oral arguments on the legality of Laredo’s ban on Jan. 11, 2018. 
Single-use bag ban advocates hold a press conference before the Texas Supreme Court prior to oral arguments on the legality of Laredo’s ban on Jan. 11, 2018.   Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

The city of Austin announced Tuesday it will no longer enforce its ban on plastic bags after the Texas Supreme Court ruled that a similar ban in Laredo violated state law, KUT reported.

"Following the recent ruling from the Texas Supreme Court, the City will not enforce our current rules," a spokesperson for the city said in an emailed statement. "While it’s disappointing that the City is losing a tool to help protect the environment, we are also confident that the Austin community will continue to do their best to minimize plastic bag waste."

The court ruled unanimously on June 22 that a state law on solid waste disposal pre-empted Laredo's local ordinance, resolving a long-standing question over whether local governments are allowed to impose such bans.

Cities including Fort Stockton, Port Aransas and Brownsville have implemented similar bans in recent years, and the court's decision held that those bans are unenforceable as well. The ruling drew applause from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and criticism from environmental groups.

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On Monday, Paxton sent letters to 11 cities across the state with plastic bag bans as a reminder that such those ordinances are now "illegal” and “unenforceable.” 

“Municipalities ignoring this law are unlawfully passing their duty to manage solid waste on to their residents and retailers in violation of settled Texas law,” Paxton wrote in letters to Port Aransas and Brownsville, among others. “A dislike of state law is no justification for a municipality to violate it.”