2019’s Best Staged Press Conference Masks Legislation’s Silliness

Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, wins the award for the best staged press conference of 2019.

Not since Governor Schwarzenegger brought out the infamous “Count Cartaxula” (played by my good friend Walter von Huene) have we seen anything like a tall staffer wearing a giant, mock grocery store receipt around his neck.

Unfortunately, they went to all this trouble (and killed countless trees in the making of the cash register receipt costume) to promote another silly and unnecessary proposal.

Ting has proposed legislation to “require business to offer electronic receipts unless customers ask for paper copies.”

No one will disagree with Ting that some grocery store receipts are ridiculously long, but we don’t need government to mandate electronic receipts.

Whenever I go over to Office Max to buy office supplies, I’m already given the option to have a paper or electric receipt, or both.  They didn’t need Ting’s legislation to give me that choice.

Additionally, nearly every time I go to a store, I’m asked if I would like a receipt.  Californians don’t need state legislation to utter a simple “no” if they don’t want a store receipt.

While Ting’s bill may seem like a simple proposal to encourage people to go green, it’s another mandate that chips away at people’s personal freedoms.  We don’t need government dictating to us how – or if- we receive a store receipt.

There are also real dangers with a state electronic-receipt mandate.  For starters, customers would be required to give the store their e-mail address or cell phone number to receive their electronic receipt.

Just imagine how much junk e-mail from retailers that would unleash!  Most of the personal e-mail I get each day are unwanted solicitations from retailers.   I already spend way too much time unsubscribing from unwanted e-mail lists.  The last thing I’d want is to receive even more notices and advertisements in my e-mail thanks to this legislation.

Most troubling, considering the recent big data breaches at major retailers like Macys, Target, and Home Depot, do we really want to expose more Californians to having their personal, private data compromised?  Business Insider reports that there were at least 16 separate security breaches at major retailers between January 2017 and April 2018.  The last thing we should be doing is exposing more Californians to having their identities stolen by driving them to receive electronic receipts.

The bottom line – if you’re a Californian concerned about the waste from getting paper receipts at stores, follow Nancy Reagan’s advice the next time you’re offered one – just say no.


Tim Anaya is the Pacific Research Institute’s communications director.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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