AG Brnovich Finds Bisbee’s Plastic Bag Ban Violates State Law

PHOENIX - Attorney General Mark Brnovich has concluded the City of Bisbee’s plastic and carryout bag regulations violate state law. Brnovich determined Bisbee’s regulations conflict with state law, which prohibits municipalities from regulating the sale or use of disposable carryout bags by private businesses.

“My job as Attorney General is to enforce state law,”  said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Regardless of policy arguments for why the bag ban exists, the City of Bisbee does not have the authority to ignore state law and reach its policy goal by illegally imposing regulatory mandates on private citizens and businesses.”

In 2016, the Arizona Legislature passed HB2131, which prohibited cities, towns, and counties from restricting a retailer’s ability to offer plastic bags to customers. The Legislature identified the regulation of plastic bags as a statewide interest when passing HB2131. Despite the state law, the Bisbee City Code bans retail establishments from providing single-use plastic carryout bags to their customers and provides a fee structure that forces retail establishments to charge a minimum of $.05 per recycled paper bag.  Retail establishments face a fine of up to $500 per violation of the code.

State Senator Warren Petersen requested the SB1487 investigation into Bisbee's ordinance.

Under SB1487, Bisbee has 30 days to resolve the violation or the Treasurer will begin withholding state shared monies from the City of Bisbee.

This was the fifth investigation triggered by a member of the legislature under SB1487 since its passage in 2016.

Full copy of the investigative report.