Proposition 26 was a sneaky little devil from the start.

Shielded by the commotion of the “No on Prop. 23” activists, Big Oil slipped the less digestible (but equally harmful) Prop. 26 past the Big Green army and into law last November.

We knew the dirty-energy giants would whip it out of their magic kit sometime soon — but this first wave of the Prop. 26 wand (first that we know of, anyway) is a little unexpected. Plastic-bag manufacturer Hilex-Poly is suing the County of Los Angeles…

… over its recent ban on plastic bags.

That's a hard thing to do, because arguing against cleaner oceans and for sweet little marine creatures choking to death on jellyfish-looking Vons baggies is widely, and rightfully, accepted as evil, in this day and age. So Hilex-Poly and its partners are ripping a page out of the “Yes on Prop. 26” handbook: They're taking the libertarian-lite approach, where capitalistic freedoms are good and government taxation is bad. End of story.

During the election campaign, the few dissenting parties privy to the colossal implications of Prop. 26 were accused by the other side as attacking small businesses.

Similarly, the pro-plastic plaintiffs now argue that the 10-cent fee L.A. County stores are charging for every paper bag you use (pretty mandatory, unless you bring your own reusable bag, or make impressive use of your opposable thumbs) is actually more an oppressive tax than a fee.

Oil companies loved the proposition because it would turn the fees they're normally charged for drilling, which are then bestowed upon fix-it environmental groups by the government, into “taxes.” And once they're called taxes, they require a tough 2/3 vote in the Legislature.

Here's why Hilex-Poly loves it just the same, via Fox & Hounds Daily:

The suit charges that the 10-cent charge for using paper bags is a violation of Proposition 26, which requires that a fee cover only the cost of a service. “The county is requiring a 10-cent charge for a bag that stores used to give away for free,” said attorney Steve Merksamer who represents Hilex-Poly. …

Merksamer said the county thinks it insulated itself from the Prop 26 provisions because the retail stores collect the fee rather than a government entity. However, he says the ordinance requires the retailer to keep the money and do with it what the government tells it to do.

The first of many handy mis-applications of Prop. 23's evil cousin, to be sure.


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