It all started with a post on a Lincoln Facebook community page. A resident said she went to the Raley's in Lincoln and, despite the newly passed ban on plastic bag usage across the state, the store bagged her groceries in non-reusable plastics.
The reason the store gave her, she went on to explain, was that the city was exempt from the statewide ban that went into effect immediately after the November 8 passage of Proposition 67.
ABC10 reached out to the Raley's grocery store, and they confirmed they are still using single-use plastic bags.
City councilmember Paul Joiner responded to the commenter a short time later:
"Lincoln passed an [resolution] in anticipation of State law changing to allow the continued use of plastic bags in Lincoln," he explained in the post. "That only preserves the right of local businesses to use the bags if they wish to. Large companies like Raley's and Walmart are unlikely to create a separate bag policy for Lincoln.
"That said, it is correct to say the newly enacted plastic bag law does not apply in Lincoln," he added.
Multiple people commented on the post questioning the validity of the councilmember's statement, and whether the city's grocers could, indeed, still use single-use plastic bags.
A copy of the resolution obtained by ABC10 shows the Lincoln City Council voted on a resolution that allows "consumers and businesses should continue to have the option to choose the carryout bags that best serve their needs."
Records show the resolution was passed after a unanimous vote by Joiner and four other councilmembers as a way to counteract the passage of 2014's Senate Bill 270. The bill allowed stores to voluntarily stop providing single-use bags.
Mark Murray, the executive director of Californians Against Waste and advocate of Prop. 67, said Lincoln has no right to ignore state law.
"Their timing was certainly before the deadline," Murray said, adding, "Even if it was deemed valid, their [resolution] has no bearing on state law."
In an email statement from Lincoln's Public Information Officer Jill Thompson, the city is citing part of Prop 67's preemption as the source of its continued use of the plastic bags.
Prop 67 states that if a local public agency adopted an ordinance or resolution on single-use carryout bags before Sept. 1, 2014, then it can "continue to enforce and implement that ordinance, resolution, regulation, or rule that was in effect before that date."
"Therefore," Thompson stated, "the plastic bag ban does not apply to business in Lincoln."
Murray disagrees. The wording on Prop 67, he says, only allows local ordinances to continue imposing their resolution if the rule is on banning plastic bags, not continuing their usage.
Joiner told ABC10 in an email that the Lincoln city attorney is "currently reviewing [the resolution] in light of SB270 and the passage of Prop. 67."
Still, some residents on Facebook are left wondering if it's worth the money to try and get around the newly-passed prop 67.
"Lincoln is not above the state law," one person stated. "That's a good was to wind up in court and waste tax payer's dollars."