Governor-elect Abbott wants to end local ban on plastic bags

Governor-elect Greg Abbott won't be sworn in for another week and a half but already he's proposing sweeping changes to the way local government passes laws.

Some of them could take effect right here in Austin.

Thursday Governor-elect Abbott delivered what some people are calling his first major policy speech. In it he highlighted the need to preserve quote freedom and property lines even if that includes overturning laws passed here at the local level.

It's a sign of the times, Texas is ushering in its first new governor in fourteen years and he's drawing his first line in the sand that could pit local and state governments against each other.

"His concern was of Texas becoming like California through a piecemeal process of local over regulation," said Vice President of Policy at Texas Public Policy Foundation Chuck Devore.

Abbott gave his speech to the foundation. He says by bringing it back to the state level taxpayers will get their power back.

"It's about liberty. If you lose your liberty it matters not if you lose it to the federal government or the state government or to the local government liberty lost is liberty lost," he said.

"The real Californication here is when we have statewide officials telling local governments how they should be treating their problems," said Andrew Dobbs, the Central Texas Program Director for the Texas Campaign for the Environment.

Dobbs says the campaign fought to get the plastic and paper bag ban passed in Austin two years ago. He says it's had a huge impact on reducing litter in the city. While he admits it's not a comprehensive approach, he says it's an effective one.

The Texas Retailers Association had filed a suit against the bag ban but that's been dropped.

"We supported Abbott when he was attorney general, when he issued an opinion that there's an existing state statute which holds that local governments are prohibited from enacting these kinds of ordinances. We support that position and we are encouraged to hear Abbott speak out on that today," said Ronnie Volkening, the President of the Texas Retailers Association.

Only time will tell if local government will still get to decide how they'll handle it. That clock starts ticking next week when the legislature goes back into session.

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