Debra J. Saunders

For five years, California state Sen. Alex Padilla has been pushing a bill to ban grocers and large retailers from giving away single-use plastic bags. In May, he came close; his SB 405 fell 3 votes short of the 21 needed to pass in the state Senate. On Thursday, Padilla announced that he will try again in January. "I am convinced that a statewide policy is only a matter of time," quoth Padilla in a statement.

He's probably right. When Sacramento scolds decide that they've got the right to tell law-abiding taxpayers what they cannot do -- for their own good -- there's no stopping that train.

In 2007, San Francisco became the first city in America to prohibit grocers from giving away single-use plastic bags. Then-Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi boasted that his "first-in-the-nation" ban would spark similar legislation. In 2012, Ess Eff's plastic bag ban expanded to apply to all retailers. In October, the Special City's nanny bag law required restaurants to charge a dime for each paper takeout and delivery bag.

Politicians in search of easy headlines followed Mirkarimi's lead. Other cities -- including San Jose and Los Angeles -- passed their own bans.

A statewide bill by Assemblyman Marc Levine won the support of the California Grocers Association, as it promised "uniformity of experience" for shoppers and, more importantly, big retailers, which would have gotten to keep the bag fee.

It never ceases to amaze me how willingly Californians agree to be treated like sheep. Liberals are supposed to believe in choice -- but lawmakers happily abandon that mantra when they spy an opportunity to tell working people and shoppers what they cannot do.

In Sacramento, they don't even have to establish the need for their nanny laws, the science behind their nanny laws or the economics behind their nanny laws. The left has tapped into the guilt Americans feel for consuming groceries, clothes, stupid purchases. With the ban on bags, politicians have become the new priests. Their message: You can buy tons of crap -- but you have to atone by putting your purchases into sackcloth.

Do I exaggerate? Consider that Padilla's SB 405 exempted food stamp recipients because, he told me in April, he feared a bag ban would have a negative "impact on low-income families." As if their bags are different.


Debra J. Saunders


 
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