Dallas stores to soon charge fee for plastic bags - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Dallas stores to soon charge fee for plastic bags

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Backers of a ban on disposable shopping bags claimed a partial victory at Dallas City Hall on Wednesday.

The city council approved an ordinance that prohibits stores and other businesses from giving out free plastic or paper bags when customers check out.

Shoppers who don't bring their own reusable bags will be charged an "environmental fee" of 5 cents per bag. Some of that money will go back to the city for education and enforcement.

The ordinance goes into effect on January 1, 2015.

It's designed to cut down on the litter problem caused by those lightweight plastic bags. They blow around the city and end up in places where they shouldn't.

The city council debated the issues for nearly a year and a half. There was motion to table it again, but instead it was approved by a vote of 8-6.

The city's attorneys have vowed to defend the partial ban against legal challenges.

Business groups have criticized it, calling it anti-business.

Others say the partial ban affects them personally.

Trey Taylor suffers from a disease that affects his spine. He's been confined to a motorized wheelchair since 2006 and says he can't live without recyclable plastic bags, because they're a cheap way to keep his chair controls dry while trying to get around.

"I disagree with it," he said. "I just don't have the funds to do it."

Councilman Dwaine Caraway championed the plastic bag ban, and Taylor confronted him directly.

"I invited Dwaine Caraway to take a ride in my chair if he would like and see what it's like carrying groceries in this chair," said Taylor.

Councilman Jerry Allen asked the city attorney whether or not the ordinance is legal. He did not get a direct answer.

"Does the State of Texas allow cities to charge a fee?" said Allen.

"We are ready to defend that position," said Dallas city attorney Warren Ernst.

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