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For California Lawmakers, Plastic Bag Ban Debate Is Back

One of the most controversial issues in the California legislature in recent years is back. Lawmakers are proposing several bills that would either ban the use of plastic bags, charge fees for single-use bags or both.

The plastic bag ban bill that has repeatedly failed to pass the California legislature in recent years is back. Measures in each chamber would ban grocery and big box stores from offering plastic bags by the year 2015. The bills would also let stores charge a small fee for paper bags.

Democratic Assemblyman Marc Levine authored one of the bills. He said more than 60 cities and counties already have such bans - and he wants to standardize the rules statewide.

"The goal, of course, is to reduce waste across California and in our oceans and waterways - as well as to shift people into using reusable bags that are better for the environment," said Levine.

Past proposals have failed after opposition from grocers and plastic bag manufacturers. The paper industry said this year's bills should be amended to remove the fee on paper bags.

Meanwhile, a separate measure would charge a five-cent fee on paper and plastic bags, with the revenues going to cleanup efforts in local parks.

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