A proposed bill in the California assembly would make it illegal for restaurants to provide plastic straws unless requested by customers. The bill would include penalties such as monetary fines and jail time, but its author has stressed that such penalties would not be enforced.
The bill, proposed by Democratic Assemblyman Ian Calderon, is one of many recent efforts to reduce the number of single-use plastic straws, many of which end up in the ocean or cause environmental issues due to their small size.
Similar laws exist already in Davis, Calif., and San Luis Obispo, Calif., but Calderon’s bill would stretch regulation across the entire state.
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“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, majority leader of California's lower house, said in a statement.
The bill would tack the rule onto already existing code, the violation of which carries a fine between $25 and $1,000, up to six months in county jail or both, "except as otherwise provided." It would only apply to sit-down restaurants, not bars or fast food locations.
Calderon set out to defend the bill on Twitter, claiming amendments would be added to remove the possibility of a fine or jail time for handing out straws.