Fish and Game Commission angles in favor of Proposition 67

SACRAMENTO —The California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) endorses Proposition 67 in hopes of maintaining practices across the state to ban consumer use of single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and similar locations, according to a letter from FGC Executive Director Valerie Termini to public affairs consultant Steven Maviglio.

Voters across California can vote for or against Proposition 67 on Nov. 8.

A “yes” vote on Proposition 67 means policies banning plastic bag use should be allowed to remain in place. Voting “No,” however, means Senate Bill 270, which was signed into law in 2014, would be repealed.

SB 270 mandated a prohibition of single-use plastic bags. The American Progressive Bag Alliance is a leading opponent of Proposition 67 and the single-use bag ban.

The FGC hopes the ballot initiative would pass on Nov. 8 to help reduce marine debris and protect marine life.

Commissioners expressed support of plastic bag ban policies and Proposition 67 at their Aug. 24 meeting. FGC Executive Director Valerie Termini signed off on a letter to Maviglio in support of Proposition 67 about one month later; the letter was posted on the FGC website ahead of the commission’s Oct. 19 meeting.

“Members of the Fish and Game Commission … voted unanimously to support Proposition 67. With this vote, the Commission issued a strong public statement of support in favor of voting ‘yes’ on Proposition 67, to uphold the ban on plastic bags as a means to reduce ocean debris and protect marine life,” Termini wrote in her Sept. 20 letter to Maviglio.

Termini’s letter cited a quote from FGC Chair Eric Sklar, where he advocated for the reduction of marine debris. Sklar explained in August the need to maintain a plastic bag ban policy: “Plastic bags end up in the ocean and cause big problems for our marine life. Marine debris is a priority of this administration and of this commission.”

Maviglio is the referendum campaign leader of Proposition 67. His firm, Forza Communications, is based in Sacramento. Its website states the firm offers “innovative, comprehensive strategic communications and issue advocacy solutions” for its clients and projects. Maviglio was involved with three ballot initiatives in the 2012 election.

Proposition 67, according to the California Secretary of State, aims to prohibit single-use plastic or paper bags at grocery and other stores. Customers could, however, purchase recycled paper or reusable bags.

The ballot initiative, if approved by a majority of California voters Nov. 8, would have “relatively small fiscal effects on state and local governments, including a minor increase in state administrative costs and possible minor local government savings from reduced litter and waste management costs.”

Supporters of the initiative argue reduced plastic bag use would help alleviate litter and benefit marine life and wildlife.

The proposition’s opponents, according to the Secretary of State’s voter guide, claim the plastic bag ban is ultimately a “hidden tax” of 10 cents per grocery bag at checkout.

“Prop. 67 is a $300 million annual hidden tax on consumers,” the initiative’s opposition stated on the state’s official voter guide. “Not one penny goes to the environment. All $300 million goes to grocer profits.”

Mark Murray was listed as the contact person in favor of the plastic bag ban; his email is murray@cawrecycles.org. Also listed is his phone number (916-443-5422) and website (protectplasticbagban.org).

The initiative’s opponents only provided a mailing address on the Secretary of State’s voter guide: No On 67, 2350 Kerner Boulevard, Suite 250, San Rafael, California 94901.

A complete guide to Proposition 67 can be viewed on the Secretary of State’s website.

The city of Huntington Beach repealed its ban on single-use plastic bags in 2015, opening the door for the environmental issue to be revisited during the upcoming election cycle.

(Photo by NOAA Office of Response and Restoration)

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