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Maybe Dallas Won't Face a Lawsuit if It Passes Its Plastic Bag Ban After All

Their argument would be more convincing if they hadn't sewn such fashionable wardrobes.
Their argument would be more convincing if they hadn't sewn such fashionable wardrobes.
Flickr user Bernard Burns

The Texas Retailers Associations and its allies in the fight against Dallas' proposed ban on plastic and other single-use bags have succeeded in stalling any action for the foreseeable future. So, even though Councilman Dwaine Caraway swears to us that the measure will ultimately pass, they've won at least a minor victory.

Nevertheless, the TRA is losing the war. As more cities that aren't Austin adopt them, bag bans seem increasingly like a legitimate response to litter and environmental degradation and less like lefty plots to destroy the American way of life. And the trade group, which counts all the major grocery-store chains as members, has given up any pretense that such measures are illegal.

The TRA, you'll remember, sued the city of Austin claiming its bag ban was illegal. The lawsuit was quite explicit on that point.

Texas law is clear: a city may not ban bags, unless authorized by the state to do so, which it has not. But this is exactly what Austin did.

See also: If Dallas Wants to Ban Plastic Bags, It Should Be Prepared to Get Sued by Retailers

The law went into effect anyway, and Austin has yet to suffer the ill effects critics warned of. No salmonella outbreaks from shoppers failing to sanitize their reusable bags, no flight to the suburbs to by groceries. On Monday, TRA quietly admitted defeat, dropping its legal challenge against the city.

In a statement explaining the decision, the group maintained that its goal all along was to seek clarity on the legislation, not attack it.

As we stated at the time the suit was filed, our primary goal is that both retailers and customers have clear direction as to what types of bags may be provided in Austin and elsewhere.

Recent developments during the discovery phase of the litigation have given us concern that the focus was being moved away from our primary purpose of seeking clarity as to the state of the law in Texas. For this reason, the Texas Retailers Association has made the decision to withdraw the lawsuit and seek other opportunities to address this challenging issue.

Translation: The TRA realized that it was going to lose in court and decided to save itself the embarrassment. Presumably, that means they won't take Dallas to court, which is probably a good thing. Because Caraway's declaration was less a prediction than a guarantee.


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