Rich Phillips, Jim Harris Mentioned in Law360 on SCOTX Plastic Bag Ban Matter

“Laredo Defends Bag Ban Before Texas High Court”

Laredo should be allowed to ban single-use bags in retail stories, the city told the Texas Supreme Court in oral arguments Thursday, because nothing in state law prevents it from doing so, as a merchant’s association has argued.

Richard B. Phillips, arguing on behalf of the merchant association, told the court that “with unmistakable clarity, the legislature has banned prohibiting the sale of bags.”

Chief Justice Nathan Hecht told Phillips that while it’s easy to see why the legislature may not want ordinances on the back end that would limit the ways people can dispose of their trash, it’s harder to say why they would “think solid waste management would be advanced by prohibiting that on the front end.” Phillips said the state statute might not serve a reduction purpose, but perhaps it was done to advance a statewide uniformity purpose.

“The legislature said, ‘We want you to reduce waste,’ but one way you can’t — and I don’t know why they did it, but they did — is by [a ban on the sale or use of plastic bags],” Phillips said. “They took away one piece of the toolkit.”

The Laredo Merchants Association is represented by James B. Harris and Richard B. Phillips Jr. of Thompson & Knight LLP, Christopher C. Peterson and Gabriel C. Gonzalez of Lopez Peterson PLLC, and James K. Lehman of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP.