When 52 percent of California voters last week upheld a ban on plastic bags at supermarkets, they created some business winners and losers in Los Angeles.
Among the winners is Command Packaging in Vernon, which invested heavily in technology to make plastic bags that comply with the standards of the bag ban, chiefly using a certain amount of recycled plastic content and being able to be reused at least 125 times. Command Packaging built a plant in Salinas specifically to extract resin from plastic that had previously been used to cover crops.
Also in the winner column are local supermarket chains, such as Compton-based Ralphs Grocery Co., which get to keep the fees they must charge for carryout bags.
Among the local losers is plastic bag manufacturer Crown Poly Inc. of Huntington Park, which chose not to invest in technology to make plastic bags with recycled content. The company instead focused on making plastic bags reusable, launching a line of heavy duty bags that could be reused hundreds of times. Crown Poly officials would not comment on whether they intended to make plastic bags that are fully compliant with the bag ban.
The bag ban measure, Proposition 67, was a referendum on a 2014 state law banning plastic bags and was placed on the ballot by bag makers seeking to overturn the legislation.
While voters supported the ban, they rejected a companion measure to redirect a minimum 10-cent fee for carryout bags from supermarkets to an environmental fund. The original law states that supermarkets can keep the fees, which was part of the compromise that ensured supermarket support for the ban.
Plastic bag manufacturers also put this measure on the ballot, claiming the money was best directed toward helping the state meet other environmental goals, but opponents said the measure was merely meant to confuse voters.
Other Ballot Measures
Turning to other statewide ballot measures that were closely watched by business groups, voters narrowly rejected Proposition 53, which would have put major infrastructure projects costing more than $2 billion to a vote. The California and L.A. chambers, as well as a host of other business groups, joined Gov. Jerry Brown in opposing this measure, saying it could have threatened major infrastructure repair projects after an earthquake or other natural disaster.
The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce cheered the passage of Proposition 51, a $9 billion school bond, and Proposition 56, a hefty new tax on cigarettes and other tobacco or nicotine products. Voters also sided with the chamber’s position to reject Proposition 61, which would have set limits on certain prescription drug prices.
The local pornography industry had reason to celebrate when voters rejected Proposition 60, which would have required adult film actors to wear condoms and allowed people to sue adult film companies if they spotted actors in films not wearing condoms.
As of late last week, it appeared Democrats would regain a two-thirds supermajority in the Assembly, though they were likely to fall just short of that mark in the state Senate. A two-thirds supermajority allows the party in control to enact legislation without fear of opposition.
Both houses briefly had Democratic supermajorities after the 2012 election, but were rarely able to execute the power that comes with it. That’s because a group of moderate Democrat lawmakers from the Central Valley often acted to stop legislative mandates targeting business.
That group, known as the “mod squad,” has varied in size, but its lawmaker members share a goal of making sure bills do not pose an unfair burden on businesses.
Votes were still being counted in some close races late last week, but Democratic lawmakers were leading in enough races to be on track to regain a two-thirds supermajority status in the Assembly. That means the California Chamber of Commerce, California Manufacturers and Technology Association and other business and industry trade groups would have to ramp up their lobbying of the Central Valley moderate lawmakers in order to stop “job killer” bills and other legislation deemed burdensome to business.
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