Ballot Spotlight: Propositions 65 and 67

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Chelsea Viola
National Beat Reporter

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider was on campus on Oct. 13 for a Yes on Proposition 67 demonstration hosted by CALPIRG, a student activism organization.

If Proposition 67 is passed, it would ratify Senate Bill 270, prohibiting grocery stores and pharmacies from providing carryout plastic bags. This would also apply to small grocery stores, convenience stores, and liquor stores, starting in 2017. Prop 67 would also permit retailers to sell recycled and/or reusable bags, at a minimum of 10 cents each.

“I wanted to acknowledge and thank CALPIRG for the work they’ve done for many years,” Schneider said. “[CALPIRG was] very instrumental in putting our city ban on plastic bags a few years ago.”

In Santa Barbara, the plastic bag ban was enacted for large grocery stores in May 2014.

“We had this ban for over two years and had no problems whatsoever. People are used to taking reusable bags or paying 10 cents for paper bags — it’s not a big deal,” said Schneider.

“[When] looking at our city-wide ban, a statewide ban made more sense,” said Schneider.

Prop 67 aims to allocate the revenue generated from reusable bags to cover the costs with complying with Prop 67, cover the cost of providing recycled and reusable bags, and to provide educational materials encouraging the use of reusable bags.

Kat Sitnikova, the Public Outreach Director of the A.S. Zero Waste Committee, shared her support for Prop 67 last Thursday.

“Since plastic bags have been banned in Santa Barbara for the past 2 years, there is no market for them here,” said Sitnikova, a second year environmental science major.  “If we do reinstate the plastic bags, they have will have to go to the landfills and then go to the oceans.”

The main push for Prop 67 is rooted in serious environmental damage implications. According an article posted by Carleton College, fish and other marine organisms consume plastic particles that come from plastic debris in the ocean, resulting in human consumption of chemicals present in plastic.

Prop 67 isn’t the only environmentally-conscious measure on the ballot. Proposition 65 is the other plastic-bag related measure on the ballot for this November.

Voting ‘yes’ on Prop 65 would allocate revenue generated from the sale of plastic bags to a fund designated by the Wildlife Reservation Board. The key difference between Prop 65 and 67 is that Prop 67 bans plastic bags outright, whereas Prop 65 would allocate the revenue from plastic bags to environmental protection programs.

If passed, Prop 65 would direct plastic-bag revenue to the Environment Protection Enhancement Fund. This fund would be used for environmental protection aid programs such as “drought mitigation, clean drinking water supplies, recycling, litter removal, wildlife habitat restoration, beach cleanup, and state, regional, and local parks.”

Due to the contradictory nature of these two provisions, varying conclusions on the November ballot will result in a combining of policies proposed by the two measures.

If both pass but Prop 67 receives more “yes” votes, the ban on plastic bags would overrule Prop 65’s revenue allocation provision.

If both pass but Prop 65 receives more votes, the ban on plastic bags would come into effect and revenue from reusable bags would be allocated to the designated environmental fund instead of redirected back to the grocery stores.

“Me, personally,” said Schneider, “I’m voting no on 65. Mainly because it confuses everything, [Prop 67] is cleaner.”

“When petroleum companies are putting in millions of dollars supporting 65, you have to question their real rationale,” said Schneider.

The American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) is a ballot measure committee that has had an active role in both Prop 67 and 65. APBA began in 2005 as a pro-plastic bag industry advocacy group. One of the APBA’s main supporters is The Society of Plastic Industry, a non-profit organization that seeks “growth in the U.S. plastics industry.”

APBA is the leading force for the support of Prop 65. The APBA states, “while opposed to plastic bag bans, the organization would rather see state-mandated fees on carryout bags go towards environmental projects than to grocers and retailers.”

APBA is a leading force for the ‘No on 67’ campaign and was the main push to bring Prop 67 onto the ballot as a veto referendum.

“The approval of SB 270 … could serve as a case study for what happens when greedy special interests and bad government collide in the policy-making process,” Lee Califf, the executive director of the APBA, said in a statement. 

Schneider felt strongly about putting the plastic bag ban in perspective for those unaware of the environmental effects of plastic bags.

“Don’t send sea turtles to heaven, vote on Prop 67,” Schneider said in a reference to ocean pollution.

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