2016-09-15 / Front Page

Enforcement of Port Aransas bag ban suspended

The Port Aransas City Council tonight (Thursday, Sept. 15,) suspended enforcement of a city ordinance banning plastic shopping bags at points of sale.

The suspension was effective immediately, said City Secretary Irma Parker.

The council decided to suspend enforcement after City Attorney Michael Morris advised it would be a good idea in light of the fact that a state appeals court in August struck down a plastic bag ban in Laredo.

The ruling only affects Laredo’s ordinance for now, but it gives legal momentum to bag ban opponents elsewhere, according to the Texas Tribune.

The Port Aransas City Council’s suspension of its ordinance's enforcement is designed to last at least until the Texas Supreme Court makes a decision on the Laredo case.

If a merchant chooses to sue the City of Port Aransas over its ordinance, it could be expensive for the city to put up a defense, Morris warned.

The council vote was 5-1, with Joan Holt voting against suspension. Council member Beth Owens was absent.

Some council members said they were reluctant to suspend enforcement because they believe the ordinance has been successful in getting bag litter off the city streets since the law took effect on Jan. 1.

It was unclear tonight whether suspension of enforcement would result in plastic bags being issued at points of sale in Port Aransas. Some at the council meeting said it's likely businesses won't do it, at least not right away, because their systems are geared toward not using plastic bags.

(Check out the upcoming Sept. 22 South Jetty for more on this issue.)

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