BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 1136


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          Date of Hearing:  May 5, 2015


                   ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON AGING AND LONG-TERM CARE


                                 Cheryl Brown, Chair


          AB 1136  
          (Steinorth) - As Introduced February 27, 2015


          SUBJECT:  Reusable grocery bag and recycled paper bag: fee:  
          exemptions.


          SUMMARY:  Exempts seniors and post-secondary students from fees  
          required for reusable bags.  Specifically, this bill:  expands  
          eligibility for receipt of a no-cost reusable grocery bag or a  
          recycled paper bag at the point of sale to:


          1)A customer who is 65 years of age or older; and,


          2)A customer who can demonstrate proof of current attendance at  
            a California college or university.  


          EXISTING LAW (Suspended pursuant to submission of a referendum  
          petition, though becomes effective if the referendum measure is  
          approved at the November 8, 2016 election.):  


          1)Establishes Chapter 5.3 of the Public Resources Code  
            regulating single-use carryout bags which defines:










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             a.   "Recycled paper bag" as a paper carryout bag provided by  
               a store to a customer at the point of sale and contains a  
               minimum of 40% postconsumer recycled materials.  For a bag  
               with the capacity to hold eight pounds or less, the bag  
               must contain at least 20% postconsumer recycled materials.   
               A recycled paper bag must be accepted for recycling in a  
               majority of households in curbside recycling programs in  
               the state, as well as have specified information printed on  
               the bag.



             b.   "Reusable grocery bag" as bag with a handle that is  
               designed for at least 125 uses, has a volume capacity of at  
               least 15 liters, is machine washable or made from a  
               material that can be cleaned and disinfected, is labeled  
               with the name of the manufacturer, country of origin, and  
               states that it is reusable.



             c.   "Single-use carryout bag" as a bag made of plastic,  
               paper, or other material that is provided by a store to a  
               customer at the point of sale.  Exempts from this  
               definition: a bag provided by a pharmacy for a prescription  
               purchase; a non-handled bag used to protect an item from  
               damaging or contaminating other items when placed in a  
               recycled paper bag or reusable grocery bag; and,  
               dry-cleaning or garment bags.



             d.   "Store" as a retail establishment that is:  











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                i.     a full-line, self-service retail establishment with  
                 gross annual sales of at least $2,000,000 that sells a  
                 line of dry groceries, canned goods, or nonfood items,  
                 and some perishable items; or,



                ii.    has at least 10,000 square feet of retail space  
                 that generates sales or use tax pursuant to the  
                 Bradley-Burns Uniform Local Sales and Use Tax Law and has  
                 a pharmacy; or,
                iii.   is a convenience food store, food-mart, or other  
                 entity that is engaged in the retail sale of a limited  
                 line of goods, generally including milk, bread, soda, and  
                 snack foods, and that holds a Type 20 or Type 21 license  
                 issued by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control;  
                 or,





                iv.    is a convenience food store, food-mart, or other  
                 entity that is engaged in the retail sale of goods  
                 intended to be consumed off the premises, and that holds  
                 a Type 20 or 
                Type 21 license issued by the Department of Alcoholic  
                 Beverage Control.



          2)Prohibits stores from making single-use carryout bags  
            available at the point of sale on and after January 1, 2015 at  
            stores defined in Section d. i and ii above, or on and after 
          July 1, 2016 for stores described in Section d. iii and iv  
            above.











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          3)Authorizes a store to make a reusable or recycled paper bag  
            available at the point of sale for no less than ten cents.



          4)Allows compostable bags to be distributed for no less than ten  
            cents in jurisdictions which have authorized their use, and  
            provide curbside collection of food-waste for composting.  



          5)Requires a store to provide a reusable bag or recycled paper  
            bag at no charge to any customer using California Special  
            Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children  
            (WIC) benefit program, CalFresh benefits, California Food  
            Assistance Program benefits, or cash aid benefits.  



          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown.


          COMMENTS:  


          Author's Statement:  "Senior citizens and college students are  
          two of the most financially-vulnerable populations in  
          California.  According to United States Census Bureau  
          statistics, those over the age of 65 and college students living  
          off-campus face poverty rates as high as 20% and 47%,  
          respectively.  They are especially affected by regressive taxes  
          and fees, whose costs hurt low income earners most.  Last year's  
          plastic bag ban recognized the need to protect low income groups  
          from the mandatory paper bag fee, and exempted customers using  
          WIC vouchers or Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards from the  
          paper bag fee.  


          "AB 1136 will help protect students and seniors by expanding the  








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          fee exemption to include seniors and postsecondary students.   
          According to Census Bureau statistics, those over the age of 65  
          and college students living off-campus face high rates of  
          poverty.  The poverty status of many seniors is compounded by  
          the fact that many live off of a fixed-income, supported heavily  
          by Social Security.  





          "For students, the costs of tuition, housing, and impending  
          student debt further complicate their economic situation.  While  
          the Legislature is contemplating ways to make higher education  
          more affordable, especially for lower-middle class students, an  
          exemption from this fee is movement in the right direction.  





          "Including seniors and students will relieve them of the  
          regressive cost they would face when electing to use the  
          environmentally conscious option of a paper bag."  


          Current status of the plastic bag ban in California:   
          Implementation of the plastic bag ban is currently "on hold."   
          SB 270 was signed by Governor Brown on September 30, 2014.   
          Immediately afterward, opponents of the law launched an effort  
          to overturn the measure.  Corporations from South Carolina,  
          Texas and New Jersey contributed to an effort to collect  
          signatures to place the matter on the November, 2016 General  
          Election Ballot.  In order to qualify for the ballot, the ban on  
          single-use plastic bags referendum needed 504,760 valid petition  
          signatures, equal to five% of the total votes cast for governor  
          in the November 2010 gubernatorial election.  A referendum can  
          qualify via random sampling of petition signatures if the  
          sampling projects a number of valid signatures greater than 110  








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          percent of the required number.  The plastic bag ban referendum  
          needed at least 555,236 projected valid signatures to qualify by  
          random sampling, and it exceeded that threshold in an  
          announcement from the Secretary of State on February 24th this  
          year.  Therefore, at this time, the provisions of law addressed  
          by AB 1136 have been suspended, and will not go into effect  
          unless the referendum in November of 2016 passes.  AB 1136  
          amends codes currently suspended at least through November 8th  
          of 2016.





          Discussion:  AB 1136 proposes to include seniors and college  
          students in the exemptions to mandatory point-of-sale fees for  
          grocery bags distributed at grocery, and other stores.  Last  
          year, SB 270 (Padilla, Chapter 850, Statutes of 2014) was passed  
          to curb the state's reliance upon single-use plastic bags which  
          have become a ubiquitous reminder of our collective grocery  
          shopping and other consumerism as an estimated 14 billion bags a  
          year - only 5% of which are recycled, become litter, or jam  
          machinery at recycling centers, costing California more than $25  
          million annually.





          SB 270 prohibits stores from making single-use carryout bags  
          available at the point of sale, authorizes a store to make a  
          reusable grocery bag or recycled paper bag available at the  
          point of sale, but requires that these bags may not be sold to a  
          consumer for less than $0.10.  













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          SB 270 provided an exemption for people using California Special  
          Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children  
          benefits, CalFresh benefits (federally known as Supplemental  
          Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP] benefits), California Food  
          Assistance Program benefits, or cash aid benefits.  There were  
          no exemptions drafted into the initiative for people on limited,  
          or fixed incomes beyond those expressed above.





          Seniors and poverty:  Depending upon the way poverty is  
          measured, California has one of, if not the highest poverty rate  
          amongst people over the age of 65 in the nation.  Nearly one in  
          10 Californians over age 65 now lives in poverty.  One in 20 has  
          poor diet quality due, in part, to limited funds to buy food.   
          Over 20 percent of low-income Californians over the age of 65  
          could not afford to put food on the table or had to forego other  
          basic needs in order to eat during 2009.  


          


          It is well documented that the effects of the nation's recent  
          economic difficulties have been devastating for seniors who tend  
          only to be capable of deploying limited coping strategies during  
          periods of economic downturns.  The rapid expansion of this  
          population and the corresponding increase in vulnerabilities  
          within it, demands ongoing scrutiny as statewide policies  
          evolve, as public policies can both alleviate and exacerbate  
          poverty.  





          Poverty rates are especially high among racial and ethnic  








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          minorities.  About 20%t of black and Hispanic older adults were  
          poor, compared to 7.6% of whites.  Older adults with lower  
          levels of education are also more likely than those with more  
          education to live in poor families; 19.3% of elderly individuals  
          who did not complete high school lived in poverty in 2008,  
          compared to just 4.4% of four-year college graduates.  





          According to information provided by the author, college  
          students also endure some of the highest rates of poverty with  
          estimates placing at least 47% of California college students  
          living below the official poverty line.  Recent data estimates  
          that about 2.4 million people are currently enrolled in one of  
          California's three statewide higher educational systems;  
          California Community Colleges, California State Universities, or  
          the University of California.





          Coping Strategies:  A person's choice of coping strategies with  
          regard to poverty strongly depends on age.  Younger people are  
          more likely to choose an active strategy, such as finding a  
          supplementary job - one that hopefully doesn't interfere with  
          studies.  Older people who are less likely to obtain employment,  
          are more likely to experience social isolation.  Economizing or  
          reducing fixed, repetitive costs such as utilities provides some  
          relief.  Using smaller refrigerators, limiting cooling/heating,  
          limiting transportation, and recycling are part of  
          well-documented comprehensive strategies.  However, those  
          strategies may unwittingly expose modest consumers to other  
          emerging expenses.  Take for instance, a smaller refrigerator  
          popular with older people and students.  Less storage requires  
          more frequent shopping.  More frequent shopping coupled with  
          limited public transportation rides could easily conspire to  








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          create an increased exposure to the ten cent fee demanded by the  
          plastic bag ban.  As Californians adapt to the plastic bag ban,  
          many will become accustomed to carrying our own reusable bags.   
          Some will choose to simply pay the fee at the point of sale.   
          For those impoverished or living on limited fixed incomes, these  
          additional fees can become an annoying foil to the coping  
          strategies currently used by California's vast populations of  
          older, or enrolled, higher-education seeking people.  





          Previous Legislation





          SB 405 (Padilla) from the 2013-14 Legislative Session was  
          substantially similar to SB 270.  Generally, SB 405 prohibited  
          grocery stores from providing single-use plastic bags to  
          consumers and required stores to make reusable bags available  
          for purchase by customers.  SB 405 died on the Senate Floor.  





          SB 700 (Wolk) from the 2013-14 Legislative Session would have  
          required retail establishments, as defined, to collect a fee of  
          5 cents for every single-use carryout bag provided to a  
          customer.  The bill required that the fees be available for  
          grants to cities and counties for local parks and local programs  
          that reduce and cleanup litter.  This bill was held in the  
          Senate Appropriations Committee.  











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          AB 158 (Levine) also from the 2013-14 Legislative Session, in  
          general, prohibited grocery stores from providing single-use  
          plastic bags to customers and required stores to make reusable  
          bags available for purchase by customers.  AB 158 did not  
          contain a minimum fee for reusable bags.  This bill was moved to  
          the Assembly inactive file by the author.  





          SB 1219 (Wolk), Chapter 384, Statutes of 2012, extended the  
          sunset of the At-Store Recycling Program requirements from  
          January 1, 2013 to January 1, 2020 and repealed the provisions  
          preempting local regulatory action related to the at-store  
          recycling program requirements.  


          


          Conflict:  The committee has received notification from the  
          Legislative Counsel of California that AB 1136 conflicts with AB  
          190 and AB 191 by Assemblymember Harper.  Conflicts are  
          typically addressed before reporting a bill out of the second  
          house, and the author is advised to work with Assemblymember  
          Harper to avoid chaptering conflicts.


          


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:












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          Support


          None on file.




          Opposition


          None on file.




          Analysis Prepared by:Robert MacLaughlin / AGING & L.T.C. / (916)  
          319-3990