Proposed New Crime In California: Unsolicited Plastic Straws
The state of California is at it again. There is a new eco-friendly bill on the table that sounds almost too ridiculous to be real.
A group of Democratic lawmakers has introduced a bill that would punish restaurant waiters for offering their guests “unsolicited” plastic straws. Individuals that commit the “offense” could get up to a $1,000 fine or even up to a six-month jail sentence.
“This bill would prohibit a food facility, as specified, where food may be consumed on the premises from providing single-use plastic straws to consumers unless requested by the consumer. By creating a new crime and imposing additional enforcement duties on local health agencies, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program,” reads the bill, that was introduced by Ian Calderon, Democratic California Assembly Majority Floor Leader. “Existing law requires, except as otherwise provided, a person who violates any provision of the code to be guilty of a misdemeanor with each offense punishable by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $1,000, or by imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding 6 months, or by both.”
Calderon is using an environmental argument for why a bill like this is needed. According to a Reason report featuring a 2011 survey, Americans use 500 million plastic straws a day.
But, it’s unknown how accurate this statistic really is.
“The statistic is often attributed to the U.S. National Park Service (which did reference it in a 2013 environmental call for action), but the 500 million figure ultimately rests on the word of 16-year-old Milo Cress, who launched a campaign in 2011 (at the age of nine) called Be Straw Free. Cress told Reason magazine that he arrived at the estimate, which he said has been privately endorsed by the National Restaurant Association, by conducting a phone survey of straw manufacturers in 2011. No one has proven that figure wrong, mind you; it’s just that Cress is its only source and no one has confirmed his research independently,” writes Snopes.
Calderon is hoping the bill brings awareness to this environmental issue and that it will ultimately, persuade consumers to use fewer straws.
“We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans,” said Calderon in a press release. “AB 1884 is not a ban on plastic straws. It is a small step towards curbing our reliance on these convenience products, which will hopefully contribute to a change in consumer attitudes and usage.”
Evidently, the bill is getting backlash for being “government overkill” and for making the act of offering a straw without being explicitly asked by a guest, which is a common occurrence at restaurants, a crime.
“I’d like to clarify that #AB1884 (Straws Upon Request) is (a) NOT a ban; (b) should it become law, it will NOT make it a crime for servers to provide plastic straws. My intention is simply to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of plastic straws on our environment,” tweeted Calderon.
As the writer and law student, Tom Ciccotta points that there are so many other ways to bring awareness to this issue.
“This conflicts with the text of your bill. “By creating a new crime…” Why do you need a bill to raise awareness? Go make a TV spot, create a website, get Buzzfeed to do a write-up. Legislation is a last resort,” tweeted Ciccotta in response.
There is already a grassroots movement to ban plastic straws, just like plastic bags, gaining momentum.
“A grassroots movement to curtail or ban the use of plastic straws has been picking up steam all around California. The cities of Davis and San Luis Obispo passed straw restrictions in 2017. Encinatas and Berkeley are considering similar measures, and more than 100 restaurants in San Diego have signed onto a voluntary program to reduce plastic straw wastage in that city. Similar efforts are afoot in other parts of the country,” writes Snope.
Author’s note: This bill is both confusing and excessive. Waiters shouldn’t be fearful that they will end up in jail for giving out straws that their guests didn’t ask for. Again, California lawmakers are going too far.
Editor’s note: California liberals are perhaps the stupidest people on earth. I wish there were more California conservatives to throw them out.