Victory in Bag Ban Lawsuit
August 19, 2016

AUSTIN, TEXAS – On Wednesday, the Texas Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled that Laredo’s bag ban ordinance is illegal under state law. The ruling effectively adopted the arguments of a brief filed in the case by Rep. Matt Rinaldi and other legislators challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance. While the decision specifically binds Laredo, it will undoubtedly be used as authority to overturn municipal bag bans statewide.

The lawsuit arose when the Laredo Merchants Association brought suit against the City of Laredo in March 2015, challenging Laredo’s city ordinance that prohibits retailers from providing or selling plastic bags to customers. The 341st Judicial District Court ruled that the ordinance did not violate state statute and the Laredo Merchants Association appealed. In June, Rep. Rinaldi and 19 House and Senate Republicans filed an amicus curiae brief in the lawsuit arguing that Laredo’s plastic bag ban ordinance is unconstitutional because it is preempted by Section 361.0961 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. The Fourth District Court of Appeals agreed, reversing the lower court’s decision and overturning the ordinance.

“I am pleased that the Court overturned this illegal ordinance and expect the same fate to befall similar bag bans statewide,” Rinaldi said. “Last session, I filed a bill that would have clarified that existing state law prohibits municipal bag bans. I’m glad to see we accomplished the same result through this decision.”

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