Legal Elite Awards 2018

4 US BUSINESS NEWS / 2018 Legal Elite Awards , The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that the City of Laredo’s ban on businesses’ use of plastic bags is invalid and cannot be enforced. Thompson & Knight Secures Key Win Before Texas Supreme Court in Plastic Bag Case Thompson & Knight appellate attorney Richard B. Phillips Jr. represented the Laredo Merchants Association before the Court, which found that the city’s ordinance directly conflicts with a superseding state law, the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act. That law prohibits local governments from enacting ordinances limiting or prohibiting grocery stores and other retailers from giving customers plastic bags when purchasing items. “In our view, the Court correctly found that, under the Texas constitution, city ordinances cannot conflict with state law,” said Mr. Phillips. “While there may be compelling public policy reasons to enact such ordinances, cities must first consider the applicable state laws that may conflict with local actions.” The City of Laredo had argued that the ordinance was enacted to reduce its annual expense of as much as $340,000 to remove disposable bags from the city sewer system and streets. “The ordinance’s stated purposes are to reduce litter and eliminate trash – in sum, to manage solid waste, which the act pre-empts. The ordinance cannot fairly be read any other way,” wrote Chief Justice Nathan Hecht in a unanimous opinion. “The wisdom or expediency of the law is the Legislature’s prerogative, not ours.” Chief Justice Hecht also noted the ongoing friction between local governments and state leaders. “The roving, roiling debate over local control of public affairs has not, with increased age, lost any of its vigor,” he wrote. “From public education to immigration policy to fracking to shopping bags, the sides are always deeply divided. Our duty is to apply the rules fairly and equally to both sides.” LE180024