Celebrities can’t sway California lawmakers on plastic bag ban

Bette Midler was among the entertainers who lobbied for a ban on single-use plastic grocery bags in California.
(Evan Agostini / Invision/Associated Press)

This being California, Hollywood celebrities sometimes jump into battles over state legislation in Sacramento.

Last week, a group of singers and actors went up against the plastics industry over a bill that would have banned single-use plastic grocery bags from California stores.


“I’ve been bombarded by phone calls by folks who live in Malibu and stars who live in Hollywood,” Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) told colleagues during the floor debate.

An aide to the senator said he was contacted in support of the bill by entertainers including singers Bonnie Raitt, Bette Midler and Jackson Browne, and actress Rita Wilson, the wife of Tom Hanks.

Midler also went to Twitter before the vote, writing “California getting ready to vote on a statewide ban of non re-usable plastic bags! HELP BAG BAN SB 405!!!!!!”

But De Leon said he opposed the bill because it could cost 500 jobs in his district, many of them, he said, held by immigrant women -- “Women head of households, women who have to work to put food on the table.”


Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), the bill’s author, countered that working families are already paying a cost as government agencies have to spend money removing bags littering beaches, streets and the oceans.

This round went to the industry. The bill fell three votes short of the tally needed for passage, killing it for the year.


In a statement to The Times after the vote, Midler was critical of the legislators who voted against the bag ban. “Plastic bags are a scourge to the planet and everything that tries to live on it,” Midler said. “Shame on them all for caving.”



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