Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, during Thursday night's gubernatorial debate with Republican rival Neel Kashkari, said he plans to sign a law that would make California the first state to impose a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.
"I probably will sign it, yes," Brown said during the televised debate. " In fact, I'll tell you why I'm going to sign it …. There are about 50 cities with their own plastic bag ban, and that's causing a lot of confusion.''
Brown said that grocers supported a reasonable ban, implying they welcomed a more consistent statewide policy.
"This is a compromise," Brown said. "It's taking into account the needs of the environment, and the needs of the economy and the needs of the grocers."
Kashkari responded that "no chance would I sign" the plastic bag ban if he were governor.
Kashkari, a former assistant U.S. Treasury secretary who oversaw the federal bank bailout, then criticized other bills passed by the Legislature this year, including measures limiting high school football practices and legislation permitting dogs at outdoor restaurants.
"What they're not working on is rebuilding the middle class," Kashkari said.
California lawmakers last week approved legislation banning plastic bags, such as those available to customers in supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies. Supporters argued the ban would reduce litter on beaches and streets as well as garbage being dumped at landfills.
The hotly contested bill, strongly supported by environmentalists, would allow stores to charge customers 10 cents for paper or reusable plastic bags as an alternative. Similar bans are already in place in more than 100 California cities and counties, including Los Angeles County and San Francisco. Those regulations would remain intact.
Once signed by the governor, the ban on plastic bags would kick in for grocery stores and pharmacies on July 1, 2015, and extend to convenience stores and liquor stores a year later.