In similar fashion to what the city of San Luis Obispo has already done, the state of California is considering prohibiting restaurants from providing customers with single-use plastic straws unless customers request them. Violations of the proposed regulation could be costly, according to the current text of the bill.
AB 1884, introduced by Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon, would add the “straws upon request” requirement to the state’s existing Health and Safety Code section relating to food facilities, according to the bill’s text. Existing law states violations of restaurant health and sanitation standards are punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and/or six months in jail.
Shortly after Calderon introduced the bill earlier this month, the legislation became the subject of national news coverage as critics expressed outrage over the proposal. Calderon then responded with a statement on Twitter saying the bill would not make it a crime for servers to provide customers with straws.
“I’d like to clarify that AB 1884 (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,” Calderon stated.
However, the legislative counsel’s digest on the state Legislature website states explicitly the bill would create a new crime.
“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.”
Amid increasing coverage of the legislation, Calderon twitted that the criminal penalties for distributing plastic straws would be eliminated through amendments to the bill.
Last year, the SLO City Council adopted an ordinance requiring customers inside bars and restaurants to ask for a single-use straw if they want one; otherwise they would not receive a straw. The ordinance passed along with a separate ordinance banning the sale and distribution of single-use plastic bottles on city property and at city events.
San Luis Obispo reportedly became the second city in the state, after Davis, to adopt a straws upon request ordinance. The state Legislature has yet to vote on Calderon’s straw legislation.