Ian Calderon, the Assembly’s Democratic majority leader, wants to criminalize the act of providing unrequested free plastic straws at sit-down restaurants. Assembly Bill 1884 threatens waiters who give customers straws they didn’t ask for with as many as six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Lawmakers are finally cracking down on the criminal element in California.
“We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans,” Calderon said in a written statement.
Are plastic straws truly a menace? The Reason Foundation suggests the threat is overblown and reports that “the actual number of straws being used is unclear.” Their impact on waterways is also questionable. The California Coastal Commission says 835,425 straws and stirrers have been collected on its annual Coastal Cleanup Days since 1988, about 4.1 percent of all debris collected. Those numbers don’t make a compelling argument.
But this is California, which suffers from a disorder that its political class refuses to acknowledge.
Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.