Referendum to Overturn Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags

Debra Bowen, California's 31st Secretary of State
Debra Bowen, California’s 31st Secretary of State (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a press release, dated 10 October 2014, California Secretary of State, Debra Bowen announced that the proponent of a proposed referendum to overturn the recently signed law banning single-use plastic bags may begin gathering signatures to overturn it.

A total of 504,760 valid signatures from registered voters must be submitted by December 29, 2014 to county election officials. If sufficient valid signatures are obtained, the measure would qualify for the November 2016 ballot. At that time a majority of voters will have the opportunity to reject or keep the ban on plastic bags.

The referendum would repeal the entirety of SB-270 except for subdivision (a) of Section 42288 of the Public Resources Code. This subdivision would retain an appropriation of $2 million from the Recycling Market Development Revolving Loan Account for the purposes of providing loans for the creation and retention of jobs and economic activity in this state for the manufacture and recycling of plastic reusable grocery bags that use post-consumer recycled material.

The proponent, Doyle L. Johnson, did not identify the purpose for keeping this provision in his submission to the California Secretary of State. However, it appears that the provision was retained for legal reasons. The California Constitution, Article II, section 9(a) states that “The referendum power is the power of the people to approve or reject statutes or parts of statutes except for urgency statutes, statutes calling elections, and statutes providing for tax levies or appropriations for usual current expenses of the State.” Thus, the California Constitution that provides for the referendum process does not allow a referendum to overturn an appropriation of funds made by the legislature and approved by the Governor.

The Secretary of State’s tracking number for this measure is 1660 and the Attorney General‘s tracking number is 14-0011.

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