Plastic bag ban suspended as referendum qualifies for 2016 ballot

Opponents of a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags have successfully qualified a referendum on the measure for the November 2016 ballot.

Now it will be up to voters to decide whether or not the state should restrict the use of disposable plastic bags in grocery stores and other retail outlets.

By qualifying the measure for the ballot, proponents have succeeded in delaying implementation of the statewide ban. The law, which was scheduled to go into effect this summer, will now be on hold until after voters have their say.

With the statewide ban on hold, that leaves a patchwork mish-mash of local regulations for bag manufacturers and retailers to navigate. Some cities like Sacramento have proposed bans that mirror the statewide proposal, that could be adopted before next year’s vote.

In an ironic twist, the author of the statewide ban, former Sen. Alex Padilla, is now the California Secretary of State, and was charged with certifying the referendum for the ballot. Padilla’s office announced this week that the law Padilla authored would be officially delayed until the people of California have  a chance to weigh in.