There are two bills in the Texas Legislature right now that represent what is wrong with our political "discourse" as of late. They also do a hell of a job pointing out the hypocrisy that political parties regularly generate.
Senator Troy Fraser
Rep. Kelly Hancock
Everyone in Texas (Conservative, Liberal, Tea Party, Independent) should immediately contact their Texas State Senators and Representatives and ask them to strike out the last line of SB908 and HB1913. These bills are 95% good (encouraging the recycling of plastic shopping bags and offering of reusable bags), but the two lawmakers that are sponsoring them, District 24 Senator Troy Fraser and District 91 Representative Kelly Hancock, have decided to slide in a restrictive clause in the bill that would limit local community rights by not allowing them to enact any local ordinances that would conflict with these bills. Some,myself among them, interpret this to mean that Texas towns and counties will not be able to draft and implement plastic bag bans, fees or other ordinances that would aid in the reduction of litter in their area.
The reason that an environmental conscious person should object to the restrictions on their local governments is obvious. Encouraging the recycling of plastic bags is nice but is really almost completely ineffectual and almost non existent. These bags end up in our streets and gutters; clogging them up. Those that get through the gutters move on to our lakes, rivers and oceans to finally end up being consumed by marine animals and birds that mistake them for food.
Only 1%-9% of plastic bags are recycled annually. In addition the recyclables commodity market does not exactly encourage the recycling of plastic bags by private industry and is a huge loss for anyone who attempts it. According to the Clean Air Council, it costs $1,000 to recycle one ton of plastic bags which can be turned around and sold for $32. Not really a great cost benefit ratio there, huh? Therefor it is obvious that we should reduce the amount and usage of these bags through bans on these bags being distributed at stores or by implementing fees that will discourage the use of the bags encourage reusable bags but still provide funding for those cities and towns to clean up the current plastic litter problem they are facing.
What if you think, despite the above information, that plastic bag bans, fees and other ordinances are not the answer and consumers should have the option of plastic bags and then recycle and reuse them? Well, these bills seek to usurp local community's rights to enact laws and regulations that they feel would address their plastic and other litter issues. Whether these laws end up being a ban, a fee or even an expanded recycling program- shouldn't those communities have THAT choice to tackle their problem? After all the solution will be debated on the local level and not dictated by a lawmaker in Austin.
Isn't this what many of the Conservatives ran on to ride the wave of conservative change into the Texas Legislature in 2010? They told their constituents that they, like them, were tired of being told what to do by the ever expanding state and federal government and they would protect the rights of their constituents to make their own choices for their communities and themselves. The very fact that HB1913 and SB908 seek to limit these local powers is a slap in the face to these principles that conservative candidates like Representative Hancock and Senator Fraser expounded on to get into office. As a Conservative or Tea Party member, you should be outraged and send a message to them and your own local Legislators to leave your community alone and let you decide these issues at the local level!
I urge you to please contact your local Texas State Representative and Senator and tell them to oppose HB1913 and SB908 and stop this attempt by the Texas Legislature to take away your local rights to enact laws that would benefit your communities! Click on the link below to utilize a resource created by the Surfrider Foundation that will direct you to your Law Maker and help you send a letter to them today!